Poor sleep linked to increased heart risk

Nov. 16, 2010 at 1:57 AM
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ATLANTA, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say poor sleep quality or too few hours sleep may increase inflammation -- a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta suggest people with chronic sleep lacks may have higher levels of inflammation, and they found those sleeping 6 or fewer hours a night had higher levels of three inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein.

Dr. Alanna Morris says the levels of C-reactive protein were about 25 percent higher than among those who slept between 6 and 9 hours. The difference was significant even after taking into account known risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Morris notes other studies have linked increased inflammatory hormones and blood vessel changes in those with acute sleep deprivation while this study focused on chronic lack of sleep.

"Most of the studies looking at the body's response to lack of sleep have looked at subjects who have been acutely sleep deprived for more than 24 hours in experimental sleep laboratories," Morris says in a statement. "Nothing of this sort has been investigated in epidemiologic studies."

Morris and colleagues observed sleep quality and duration in 525 middle-aged people participating in the Morehouse-Emory Partnership to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities.

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