Sleep Has Been Linked to Hardened Arteries

Fewer than 6 hours of sleep at night or awakening multiple times during the night has been associated with increased risk of hardening and therefore narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).  This was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2018 and the study is called PESA, Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis, and had just under 4000 participants with average age 46.

The author of the study, Dr Fernando Dominguez, said, “Bad sleeping habits are very common in Western societies and previous studies have suggested that both short and long sleep are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is a lack of large studies that have objectively measured both sleep and subclinical atherosclerosis.”  He also said, “People who had short or disrupted sleep were also more likely to have metabolic syndrome, which refers to the combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, and depicts an unhealthy lifestyle.”

After making adjustments for commonly known risk factors and other potential factors, short sleepers and ones who had many disruptions in their sleep had significantly more atherosclerosis than those who slept 7-8 hours.  Of course, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition which limits the amount of sleep a person gets each night and is responsible for many disruptions during the night. 

Another cause for disruptions during the night are caused when people who are using CPAP for OSA move during the night.  Many times, the mask leaks or the hose drags causing sleep to be disrupted.  And there is an alternative to the CPAP.

OSA is caused by an obstruction in the airway resulting in temporary pauses in breathing during sleep.  OSA is easily diagnosed with a sleep test done in your own home.  Remember, snoring and OSA are treatable.  And they MUST be treated to prolong your life.

Dr Fernando Dominguez said,  “Failure to get enough sleep and restlessness during the night should be considered risk factors for blocking or narrowing of the arteries. Studies are needed to find out if sleeping well and long enough can prevent or reverse this effect on the arteries. In the meantime, it seems sensible to take steps to get a good night’s sleep—such as having a physically active lifestyle and avoiding coffee and fatty foods before bedtime.”