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Poor sleep could triple risk for heart disease: U.S. study

(Ivan Oboleninov / pexels.com) (Ivan Oboleninov / pexels.com)
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A new study suggests that a combination of characteristics from poor sleep could triple a person's risk for heart disease.

While some people may experience one or two aspects of poor sleep, an American study published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that experiencing multiple poor sleep aspects could compound the health problems a person experiences as a result.

Researchers from the School of Aging at the University of South Florida focused on certain aspects of sleep health, including regularity, satisfaction, alertness during waking hours, timing of sleep and sleep duration.

Their findings suggest that with each additional poor health aspect self-reported by the participants in the study, there was an associated 54 per cent increase in their risk for heart disease. For selected participants who had their self-reported data confirmed by wearing a monitoring device that recorded their sleep activity, poor sleep was associated with a 141 per cent increase in risk.

The median age of the participants of the study was 53.4 years.

The study also noted previous research that suggests sex and race can impact one's sleep health. According to the data, men are generally more likely to develop an earlier onset of obstructive sleep apnea, while women are more likely to report insomnia symptoms due to hormone changes that impact circadian rhythms.

When it comes to race, researchers noted Black individuals are more likely to experience sleep disturbances and shorter sleep duration than their white counterparts.

"These findings show the importance of assessing co-existing sleep health problems within an individual to capture the risk of heart disease," the study's lead author, Soomi Lee, said in a press release.

One limitation of the study was that it did not track changes in sleep health and health over time, something researchers said is a "future direction of this work."

While the findings can be used as a prediction tool to spot early signs of heart disease, researchers say it can also be useful to help prevent health problems later in life.

"As sleep health is modifiable, understanding multidimensional sleep health in middle adulthood may contribute to future prevention strategies aimed to mitigate the risk of heart disease, which is a leading cause of death in the United States," researchers said in the study. 

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