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Sleep helps combat risk of heart disease: research

Published on 03 July 2013 10:30 AM

Having at least 7 hours sleep a night can help save your life, according to new research from the Netherlands.

A good night's sleep was found to boost the benefits to the heart of recognised practices such as exercise, a good diet, not drinking too much and not smoking.


The research could have a major impact on public health, with many heart and stroke deaths prevented or postponed.

The study examined instances of heart disease and stroke in 14,000 men and women for over a decade. At the end of the study period, about 600 people had suffered heart disease or stroke, with 129 people dying as a result.

Analysis of the data found that those who followed the lifestyle recommendations of diet, moderate alcohol intake, exercise and not smoking, had a 57% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 67% lower risk of dying from stroke or heart disease.

If having enough sleep was factored into the equation, there was a 65% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and an 83% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

'Troubled sleepers shouldn't be alarmed' - British Heart Foundation

Previous studies have established a link between poor sleep and heart disease, but the researchers say their study is the first to factor in the other 4 healthy lifestyle recommendations.

The research paper concluded that if all the participants in the study adhered to all 5 healthy lifestyle factors, over a third (36%) of heart disease or stroke cases and over half (57%) of fatal cardiovascular disease could theoretically be either prevented or postponed, leading to a 'substantial' effect on public health.

Doireann Maddock, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said that those who have difficulty sleeping are not necessarily at greater risk of heart disease so should not be alarmed.

She said 'This research shows that combining a good night's sleep with other healthy lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of heart disease.

'But troubled sleepers should not be alarmed - this study doesn't mean sleepless nights cause heart disease.'

Mrs Maddock said that those who find it difficult to get to sleep should initially try to avoid caffeine and big meals before going to bed, but said that medical advice should be sought if lack of sleep becomes a problem.

She added that further research was needed to further back up the study into sleeping habits and heart disease.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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