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Increased stroke and MI risk linked to sleeping disorders

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Poor sleep is associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the results from a study presented at an international conference today.

The research investigated the relationship between sleep disturbances and the risk of developing a myocardial infarction or stroke in the long-term.

It forms part of the World Health Organisation’s MONICA – Multinational Monitoring of trends and determinants in Cardiovascular disease – programme.

“Guidelines should add sleep as a risk factor to recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease”

Valery Gafarov

The study included a representative sample of 657 Russian men aged 25-64 with no history of MI, stroke or diabetes.

Sleep quality was assessed when the study began in 1994 using the Jenkins Sleep Scale. Very bad, bad or poor ratings were considered to be a sleeping disorder. Cases of MI and stroke were recorded over the next 14 years.

During the study period, 63% of participants who had a heart attack also had a sleeping disorder.

Men with a sleeping disorder had a risk of MI that was two to 2.6 times higher and a stroke risk that was 1.5 to four times higher than those without a sleeping disorder during between five and 14 years of follow up.

Lead researcher Professor Valery Gafarov, professor of cardiology at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Novosibirsk, said it was necessary to “engage in intensive prevention” of risk factors leading to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

“Sleep disorders are very closely related to the presence of cardiovascular diseases,” he said. “However, until now there has not been a population based cohort study examining the impact of sleep disorders on the development of a heart attack or stroke.”

Professor Gafarov said his study showed sleeping disorders were associated with “greatly increased incidences” of both MI and stroke.

“Sleep is not a trivial issue,” he said. “Poor sleep should be considered a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease along with smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet. Guidelines should add sleep as a risk factor to recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease.”

“For most people, good quality sleep is seven to eight hours of rest each night. Our previous research showed that sleeping disorders are very closely connected with depression, anxiety and hostility, so speaking with a psychologist may also help,” added Professor Gafarov.

The study was presented at the EuroHeartCare conference, the annual meeting of the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions of the European Society of Cardiology.

The 2015 meeting is being held from 14 to 15 June in Dubrovnik in Croatia.

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