In the recent studies, it has been found that adults with sleep disorders who do not get regular sleep for at least six hours every night are more prone to the risk of fatal health issues including stroke, heart failure, and congestive heart failure. On the contrary those who sleep for more than eight hours every night develop health issues like chest pain (also known as angina and coronary artery disease) which can be defined as thinning of blood vessels through which blood and oxygen is provided to the heart.
Although these results are similar to the previous, smaller studies, the researchers are claiming that this is the first national sample that has found an association between sleep duration and the health of the heart. Also, this is the first time when five different conditions were monitored at the same time. The investigators studied 2019 patients above the age of 45 years who were participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey also known as NHANES. This survey dealt with a broad range of health issues. The results concluded that those people who are getting too little sleep are two times more prone to stroke, heart attack and 1.6 times more prone to congestive heart failure. The results also suggested that those who prefer to sleep for more than 8 hours every day are more likely to have angine and 1.1 times more prone to coronary artery disease.
Keeping these findings in mind, we can safely say that getting six to eight hours of sleep every day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease for a long term. Sleep disorder side effects include hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, diabetes, glucose intolerance and increase in blood pressure, resting heart rate, cortisone levels and inflammatory markers. These all health issues are connected to cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, it is still unclear how longer sleep affects the health of the heart and causes problems.
As per the speculations made during the studies, those who sleep for more than eight hours, report chest pains to the doctor, may get a greater clinical workup than those who were getting less sleep than six hours and not complaining about chest pains. This may explain why there are more cardiovascular events in the group with sleep time more than eight hours. But more long-term studies are required to get proper results.
Also, there are some unknown factors which are unclear but suggest that conditions like diabetes mellitus, obesity and hypertension may cause higher risk in people who sleep for less than six hours. One thing that is clear with this study is that the patients should be questioned about the sleep patterns during check-ups especially those who have a history of heart diseases or are at risk of such problems. It is very easy to assess the situation and sleep pattern as a part of physical exam and doctor can suggest adopting better sleep habits to stay healthy. If the patient is getting heart check-up, the doctor should access the sleep patterns as well. The scientists also suggested that more studies are required to confirm these findings.
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