Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hypertension and the lack of sleep.

We all have suspected that lack of sleep takes a toll on the body. The body does require a few hours to rest and retune itself. Recently, a group of researches conducted a retrospective, longitudinal analysis on the first NHANES (National Health and nutrition examination study). They examined 4,810 subjects age 32-86years, who were not hypertensive at the start of the study. They looked at their sleep pattern, especially how many hours of sleep they had at night.

During 8-10 years of follow-up, 647 of the subjects developed hypertension. 24% of those who were 32-59 years and who slept 5 hours or less developed hypertension as opposed to 12% who slept 7 hours or more. It appears true that sleep allows the heart to beat slower and blood pressure to lower, allowing the whole system to rest. This seemed to be associated with lower hypertensive risk. It is by no coincidence that those who slept less, are more obese, smoke more, had a higher incidence of diabetes, and all the other bad CVS things in life. Obviously, the comming together of all these risk factors can only mean higher risk of heart disease.

It is important to note that this is an observational study. More research needs to be done to better understand the reason for this observation.

Know then that a good night's sleep is important for good health and cardiovascular well being.

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