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How lack of sleep could increase heart disease risk among women

A new study shows that persistently high insomnia symptoms are linked to a 70% increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Women who had persistently high insomnia which was also accompanied by short sleep had an increased risk (75%) of cardiovascular disease events.(Pexels)

By Team Lounge

LAST PUBLISHED 21.02.2024  |  04:43 PM IST

It’s well-known that lack of sleep affects mood and overall well-being. Now, a new study shows that sleep patterns during midlife may strongly influence the risk of heart disease later in life, especially among women. 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women and lack of or disturbed sleep is a concerning health issue among women, especially in their midlife. Expanding on the association between the two, the new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburg, shows that regularly sleeping less than seven hours a night as well as disturbed sleep can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and myocardial infarction.

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The scientists analysed data collected from 2,517 women whose sleep was assessed up to 16 times over 22 years during midlife. In a press statement, researchers elaborated that consistently high insomnia symptoms—which were reported by almost a quarter of the participants—were associated with a 70% increased risk of a cardiovascular disease event.

The study found that an average sleep duration of less than five hours every night was associated with a 72% increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and coronary artery disease among women, Earth.com explained. The findings were published in the journal Circulation.

Furthermore, women who had persistently high insomnia which was also accompanied by short sleep had an even greater increased risk (75%) of cardiovascular disease events, the statement explained. The impact on the heart could also be due to insufficient sleep which can raise blood pressure and disrupt the body’s rhythm.

“These findings underscore both the prevalence of insufficient sleep at midlife in women as well as the importance of insomnia to women’s cardiovascular health over midlife. These data further suggest the potential value of treating insomnia to support women’s heart health," said co-author Rebecca Thurston said in the statement.

Previous studies have also shown strong links between sleep and cardiovascular disease. For instance, a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine in December 2023, showed that artery calcification—refers to a condition wherein fatty deposits accumulate on the inside of the arteries—is almost twice as common in night owls compared to early birds.

Also read: Early birds have healthier hearts than night owls: Study