Lack of Sleep Increases Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack
There are some lifestyle factors which are widely known to increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, such as smoking or a bad diet. A lack of sleep isn’t something which tends to be associated with the same risks, but a new study has suggested that sleep disorders can have just as much of an impact on your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
The World Health Organisation study took place in Russia and involved 657 male participants, aged 25 to 64, with no history of stroke, heart attack or diabetes. The research began in 1994, when the men’s sleep quality was assessed, and those with a bad rating were categorised as having a sleep disorder. Over the next 14 years, those with a sleeping disorder had a 2-2.6 higher chance of suffering a heart attack and a 1.5-4 times higher chance of stroke than those without a sleeping disorder.
“Sleep is not a trivial issue,” says study author Professor Valery Gafarov. “Sleeping disorders were associated with greatly increased incidences of both heart attack and stroke. Poor sleep should be considered a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease along with smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet. For most people, good quality sleep is seven to eight hours of rest each night, and people who are not sleeping well should speak to their doctor.”
The researchers say that sleep disorders are also closely related to anxiety, depression, hostility, vital exhaustion and are a manifestation of social stress in the population. They stress that in the battle against cardiovascular disease, good quality sleep is much more important than people realise.
“Mortality from cardiovascular diseases accounts for nearly 50% of the total mortality among the population,” says Professor Gafarov. “Nearly 80% of deaths from cardiovascular disease are due to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke, which means that today we are talking about an epidemic of cardiovascular disease. It is therefore necessary to engage in intensive prevention of risk factors leading to the development of cardiovascular disease.
“Sleep disorders are very closely related to the presence of cardiovascular diseases. However, until now there has not been a population based cohort study examining the impact of sleep disorders on the development of a heart attack or stroke. In our study, it was associated with double the risk of a heart attack and up to four times the risk of a stroke.”