Too much or too little sleep increases cardiac risk

   Sleeping too little -- or too much -- increases cardiovascular risk, according to Rohit R. Arora, MD, chairman of cardiology and professor of medicine at the Chicago Medical School, and colleagues. They say that theirs is the first nationally representative sample to find an association between sleep duration and cardiac health, and the first to look at five different conditions at one time.

   They retrospectively studied slightly more than 3000 patients over the age of 45 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a survey of U.S. households that assessed a broad range of health issues. Analyses showed that people getting too little sleep were two times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack and 1.6 times more likely to have congestive heart failure. Those reporting more than eight hours of sleep a night were two times more likely to have angina and 1.1 times more likely to have coronary artery disease.

   “We now have an indication that sleep can impact heart health, and it should be a priority,” said Dr. Arora. “Based on these findings, it seems getting six to eight hours of sleep everyday probably confers the least risk for cardiovascular disease over the long term.”