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Lack of sleep could nearly double risk of clogged leg arteries

The team studied 650,000 participants in a two-part analysis.

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By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Getting too little sleep at night could nearly double the risk of clogged leg arteries, a new study reveals.

Clogged leg arteries, or peripheral artery disease (PAD), affects more than 200 million people globally. (Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels)

Sleeping less than five hours a night is linked to a 74 percent jump in the risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD) compared with seven to eight hours.

More than 200 million people globally have peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The disease causes the arteries in the legs to clog, restricting blood flow and increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Study author Dr. Shuai Yuan, from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, said: “Our study suggests that sleeping for seven to eight hours a night is a good habit for lowering the risk of PAD.

“Insufficient night-time sleep and daytime napping have previously been associated with a raised risk of coronary artery disease which, like PAD, is caused by clogged arteries.

“In addition, sleeping problems are among the top-ranked complaints in PAD patients.

“There are limited data on the impact of sleep habits on PAD and vice versa, and our study aimed to fill that gap.”

The team studied 650,000 participants in a two-part analysis.

The researchers first carried out an observational study, which explored the link between sleep duration and daytime napping with the risk of PAD.

They then used the genetic data of 608,610 adults to do naturally randomized controlled trials called Mendelian randomization.

(Miriam Alonso via Pexels)

Dr Yuan said: “Observational analyses are limited by reverse causality – meaning that if an association between sleep habits and PAD is found, we cannot be certain if sleep habits caused PAD or having PAD caused the sleep habits.

“Mendelian randomization is a robust method for evaluating causality and provides more certainty about the results.”

The observational analysis of just under 53,500 adults showed that those who slept less than five hours a night were nearly double at risk of PAD.

The Mendelian randomization method supported this finding. The test revealed that while short sleep increased the risk of PAD, PAD was linked to an increased likelihood of short sleep.

Dr. Yuan said: “The results indicate that brief night-time sleep can raise the chance of developing PAD, and that having PAD increases the risk of getting insufficient sleep.”

Sleeping too much can also be risky. The adults who slept for eight hours or more were linked to a 24 percent higher risk of developing PAD.

However, the Mendelian randomization revealed that there was no causal relationship found between long sleep and PAD.

This was similar to the results of those who took naps. Daytime nappers had a 32 percent higher risk of PAD but there were no causal links found.

Dr. Yuan said: “More studies are needed on the relationships between lengthy night-time sleep, daytime napping and PAD.

“Although we found associations in the observational studies, we could not confirm causality.

He added: “More research is needed on how to interrupt the bidirectional link between short sleep and PAD.

“Lifestyle changes that help people get more sleep, such as being physically active, may lower the risk of developing PAD.

“For patients with PAD, optimizing pain management could enable them to have a good night’s sleep.”

The study was published today in European Heart Journal.

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