Good quality sleep could lower heart disease risk

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Healthy sleeping habits may lower the risk of heart disease, research has indicated.

A study conducted by Tulane University in New Orleans and Peking University Health Centre in China, which used information from the ongoing UK Biobank cohort study, found that those with the “best” sleep scores were 34% less likely to develop a cardiovascular disease than those with scores indicating the lowest quality sleep.

Participants were scored between 0 and 5 based on five sleep behaviours, which included: sleeping seven to eight hours most nights, not snoring, not “dozing off” during the daytime without meaning to, being a “morning person” and never or rarely having difficulty getting to sleep or waking in the night.

Of the 385,292 people in the study, 21.8% had the healthiest sleep score of 5 and 2.3% had the worst sleep score of 0 or 1.

The researchers calculated that each additional healthy sleep score point lowered the risk of heart disease or stroke by 8%. They estimated that 11.5% of the total number of heart disease or stroke cases (7,280) recorded after 8.5 years could have been avoided had the affected people had healthier sleeping habits.

The results of the study also indicated that good sleeping habits could offset genetic risk of heart disease. People who had low genetic risk saw the level risk rise if they had poor sleep patterns, while people at high genetic risk saw the risk of cardiovascular disease fall if they slept well.

Lead author Professor Lu Qi said: “We wanted to test whether the relation between sleep scores and cardiovascular outcomes was different according to the genetic risk.

“Among people with a healthy sleep score of five, there were nearly seven fewer cases of cardiovascular disease per 1,000 people per year compared to those with a sleep score of less than five.”

“As with other findings from observational studies, our results indicate an association not a causal relation.

“However, these findings may motivate other investigations and, at least, suggest it is essential to consider overall sleep behaviours when considering a person’s risk of heart disease or stroke.”

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