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Poor sleep increases the risk of heart disease
Restless sleep and clogged arteries are both complaints that increase with age. At first glance, the plaque accumulations in the arteries known as atherosclerosis have nothing to do with our sleeping behavior. A recent study found a connection between poor sleep and vascular calcification.
Researchers at the University of California find a link between sleep disorders and atherosclerosis. According to the study, frequently interrupted sleep goes hand in hand with increased circulating inflammation in the entire blood circulation, which increasingly leads to deposits in the vessels and thus increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The research results were recently presented in the renowned journal "PLOS Biology".
Poor sleep activates a unique signal path
"We found that fragmented sleep is associated with a unique pathway," said Professor Matthew Walker, the study's lead author. This pathway is associated with a higher number of plaques in the coronary arteries.
Poor sleep as a risk factor for heart disease
The results add poor sleep as the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease. "As far as we know, these data are the first to link sleep fragmentation, inflammation and atherosclerosis in humans," added Raphael Vallat from the study team. Other established risk factors for heart disease are
The findings of the study are based on an evaluation of diagnostic data from more than 1,600 middle-aged and older adults. The influence of known risk factors was taken into account to determine the influence of sleep quality. In addition to blood tests, various sleep measurements were also carried out on the participants, including long-term measurements using bracelets and eight-day sleep analyzes with brain flow measurements in the sleep laboratory.
The end result showed a clear correlation between disturbed sleep patterns and higher concentrations of circulating inflammatory factors. In particular, the concentration of white blood cells, known as monocytes and neutrophils, was increased. These play a key role in the development of atherosclerosis.
This also reflects the knowledge that has already been obtained in experiments on mice. In rodents who were constantly exposed to sleep disorders, the levels of inflammation circulating in the blood also increased. These results have a major impact on public health, the researchers emphasize.
Atherosclerosis - a silent killer
Arterial calcifications often begin in early adulthood. "Unfortunately, this process goes largely unnoticed until the plaque buildup in middle or old age suddenly blocks arterial blood flow to the heart, lungs, brain and / or other organs," said Vallat. Due to the insidious nature of the disease, more attention should be paid to sleep hygiene.
People often misjudge their sleep quality
The research team recommends monitoring your own sleep with sleep trackers that are of the highest possible quality. The study also showed that many participants misjudged the quality of their own sleep.
"If you track your sleeping habits with objective measurements, just like you measure your weight, blood pressure, or cholesterol level, you can change your sleeping habits, which could have a noticeable impact on health outcomes later in life," added Vyoma Shah from the study team.
Other diseases could also be promoted
"This relationship between fragmented sleep and chronic inflammation may not be limited to heart disease," added Walker. It is conceivable that the inflammation could also promote neurological disorders such as severe depression and Alzheimer's. This must be examined in future studies. (vb)
Also read: Sleep better: 5 tips for a good night's sleep.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- UC Berkeley: Fitful nightly sleep linked to chronic inflammation, hardened arteries (published: June 4th, 2020), news.berkeley.edu
- Raphael Vallat, Vyoma D. Shah, Susan Redline, et al .: Broken sleep predicts hardened blood vessels; in: PLOS Biology, 2020, journals.plos.org