People who get too little or too much sleep are at greater risk for early signs of heart disease, compared to those who get adequate, good quality sleep, according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.
Approximately seven hours of good quality sleep per night appears to be optimal for cardiovascular health, while less than five or more than nine may put a person at greater risk for disease.
“Inadequate sleep is a common problem and a likely source of poor health, including visible signs of disease, such as heart attack,” said Chan-Won Kim, M.D., study co-lead author and clinical associate professor at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.
For the study, researchers looked at the data of more than 47,000 young and middle-aged adults who completed a sleep questionnaire and had advanced tests to detect early coronary artery lesions and measure arterial stiffness.
Early coronary lesions were detected as the presence of calcium in the coronary arteries, and arterial stiffness was assessed by measuring the velocity, or speed, of the pulse wave between the arteries in the upper arm and ankle.
The findings showed that adults who slept five or fewer hours a day had 50 percent more calcium in their coronary arteries than those who sleep seven hours a day. Even worse, those who slept nine or more hours a day had over 70 percent more coronary calcium compared to those who slept seven hours.
Finally, adults who reported poor sleep quality had more than 20 percent more coronary calcium than those who reported good sleep quality.
“We also observed a similar pattern when we measured arterial stiffness,” said Yoosoo Chang, M.D., Ph.D., study co-lead author and associate professor in the Center for Cohort Studies at Kangbuk Samsun Hospital.
“Adults with poor sleep quality have stiffer arteries than those who sleep seven hours a day or had good sleep quality. Overall, we saw the lowest levels of vascular disease in adults sleeping seven hours a day and reporting good sleep quality.”
The study’s findings highlight the importance of adequate sleep quantity and quality to maintain cardiovascular health.
“For doctors, it might be necessary to assess patients’ sleep quality when they evaluate the cardiovascular risk and the health status of men and women,” Kim said.
The researchers caution that the study’s self-reported assessments of sleep duration and quality may actually underestimate the cardiovascular risk.
Source: American Heart Association