New Research Links Good Sleep to Heart Health | Hartford Hospital


June 30, 2022

The American Heart Association recently added sleep to its checklist used to measure cardiovascular health. The other health and lifestyle factors in the checklist, which were part of the previous seven-item scoring tool, are nicotine exposure, physical activity, diet, weight, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. The checklist – formerly called Life’s Simple 7™ – is now called Life’s Essential 8™. “I agree that good sleep is part of overall heart health,” said Stephanie Saucier, MD, FACC, RPVI, cardiology specialist at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Hartford HealthCare. “Current recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine are seven to nine hours a night. A study has shown that people who sleep six to seven hours a night have the lowest chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke. stroke, and this is also true when other risk factors are taken into account. Saucier added that people who sleep less than six hours or more than nine hours have increased levels of c-reactive protein. (CRP), which is an inflammatory marker that has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks.The Heart Association’s recommendations mirror the guidelines of the Academy of Sleep Medicine, identifying seven to nine hours of sleep per day for a optimal heart health for adults, and more for children depending on age. Quality matters as much as quantity, noted Saucier. “The quality of sleep is important, for example, people with sleep apnea are known to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” she said. “A study published in 2020 found that irregular sleep duration and timing may also be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It is therefore important to work with your doctors to optimize the quality of your sleep. Sleeping pills such as “melatonin can be taken, but other medication-based sleeping pills should be discussed and optimized on an individual basis,” she said. Saucier said there are things people can do to improve their sleep:

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