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Poor Sleep Linked to Increased Risk of Atherosclerosis

According to a new research published in journal of American College of Cardiology, poor sleep can increase the risk of plaque development in the blood arteries including the heart. People that sleep fitfully and do not sleep soundly for the mandatory 6–7 hours a day are likely to be associated with coronary heart disease. According to senior author of this study, Jose Ordovas, the director of nutrition and genomics at Jean Mayer USDA, this is the first time that a study has objectively measured the relationship of sleep to spread of atherosclerosis within the body as earlier poor sleep has been associated with coronary heart disease.

The study was carried out on 4,000 men and women from Spain within the age group of 40–46 that did not have any history of heart disease. All the participants wore actigraph, which is a small device to measure their quality and length of sleep for a week. Their sleep quality was defined by the number of times they woke up or moved during sleep. These people were divided into groups on the basis of their sleep duration like less than 6 hours, 6–7 hours or 7–8 hours and those that slept more than 8 hours.

After this, every subject was subjected to both cardiac CT scans and 3D heart ultrasound tests both at beginning and end of the study. In the 3D ultrasound, all the arteries in their body were examined. The biggest strength of the study was its large size and exclusion of people with sleep apnea and preexisting heart condition. After removing traditional factors, that is, heart disease risks, these researchers found that people sleeping less than six hours have 27 percent more risk of developing atherosclerosis in the body than people who slept for standard seven hours or more while people with broken sleep were 34 percent more likely to have atherosclerosis.

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