By Alice Clifford via SWNS
A regular good night's sleep slashes the risk of heart disease or a stroke, according to a new study.
The research suggests that 72 percent of new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke might be avoided each year with better shut-eye.
Cardiovascular diseases - such as heart attacks, heart failure and angina - are one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK.
Yet the findings of the new study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology, revealed that 90 percent of people are not getting a good night’s sleep.
Study author Dr. Aboubakari Nambiema, of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, said: “We found that the vast majority of people have sleep difficulties.
“The low prevalence of good sleepers was expected given our busy, 24/7 lives.”
He adds: “Minimising night-time noise and stress at work can both help improve sleep”.
A total of 7,200 participants, aged between 50 and 75 years old, took part in the study, 63 percent of whom were men. They were also free of cardiovascular disease at the start of the process.
Each participant took part in physical examinations and completed questionnaires. They were asked about their lifestyle and personal and family medical history and medical conditions.
The questionnaire allowed researchers to gauge their sleeping habits.
Each person received an overall sleep quality score based on their tests. Zero or one was considered poor, while five was optimal.
Those classified as optimal sleepers slept around seven to eight hours per night. They also never or rarely had insomnia, didn’t nap much in the day, had no sleep apnoea and were morning people.
Of the participants, only 10 percent were optimal sleepers.
The research team checked for heart disease and stroke every two years for 10 years, taking in consideration age, sex, alcohol consumption, occupation, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, cholesterol level, diabetes and family history of heart attacks, stroke or sudden cardiac death.
After an average of eight years, each participant had a check-up where it was revealed that 274 of them had developed heart disease or stroke.
The study shows that the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke decreased by 22 percent for every one point, meaning participants with a score of five had a 75 percent lower risk of heart disease or stroke compared to those with a score of zero or one.
The researchers estimate that if all participants were optimal sleepers, 72 percent of new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke might be avoided each year.
Dr. Nambiema said: “The importance of sleep quality and quantity for heart health should be taught early in life when healthy behaviors become established.”
After two follow-up checks, 48 percent of participants changed their sleep score: 25 percent of scores worsened, while 23 percent improved.
When the researchers looked at the link between the change of score and their risk of cardiovascular problems, they found that improving by one point reduced their risk of heart disease or stroke by seven percent.
Dr. Nambiema said: “Our study illustrates the potential for sleeping well to preserve heart health and suggests that improving sleep is linked with lower risks of coronary heart disease and stroke.
“Given that cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death worldwide, greater awareness is needed on the importance of good sleep for maintaining a healthy heart.”
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