Sleep well to thwart heart attack and stroke: Study presents evidence that links poor sleep habits to increase in risk of myocardial and cerebral infarctions.

It’s easy to stay awake until late at night but it makes getting up in the morning really painful. Disorientation, an aching head and grouchiness are common symptoms after a poor sleep but according to scientists, not getting enough sleep can lead to a bigger risk of heart disease.

According to a new study conducted in Russia, poor sleep could be considered as a modifiable risk factor along with lack of exercise, poor diet and smoking for cardiovascular disease.

The National Institute of neurological disorders and stroke estimates that in the United States, 40 million people suffer from chronic long-term sleep disorders. Some 20 million additional people experience sleep problems.

The study was conducted as part of the World Health Organization (WHO) multinational monitoring of trends and determinants in cardiovascular disease (MONICA) program. The study team presented its findings at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual conference EuroHeartCare 2015 held in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The study consisted of 657 Russian men ranging from 25-64 years of age who had no previous history of diabetes, stroke or heart attack. The study began in 1994 and utilized the Jenkins Sleep Scale on which ratings that registered as poor, bad or very bad, were considered as a sleeping disorder. Over a period of 14 years cases of stroke and heart attacks were recorded.

Sleeping Disorders

Sleeping disorders characterize negative affective states such as anxiety, hostility, exhaustion and depression and are manifested due to social stress in a population. It was observed during the study that nearly 63% of participants with a sleeping disorder had a heart attack.

The risk of a heart attack was 2- 2.6 times higher in men with a sleeping disorder and the stroke risk was 1.5-4 times higher as compared to those who did not have a sleeping disorder.

Professor Valery Gafarov, a cardiologist at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, explained in a press release, “Mortality from cardiovascular diseases accounts for nearly 50% of the total mortality among the population. Nearly 80% of deaths from cardiovascular disease are due to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke.”

He added, “Sleeping disorders were associated with greatly increased incidences of both heart attack and stroke. We also found that the rates of heart attack and stroke in men with sleeping disorders were related to the social gradient, with the highest incidences in those who were widowed or divorced, had not finished secondary school, and were engaged in medium to heavy manual labor.”

Professor Gafarov concluded that sleep wasn’t a trivial issue and guidelines for cardiovascular diseases should consider sleep as a risk factor. Around 7-8 hours of sleep every night consists of a good quality sleep for many people and that those who are having problems sleeping should consider talking to their doctor.