Not enough sleep could increase risk of clogged arteries by 74%

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Sleeping less than five hours per night is associated with a 74 percent increased risk of PAD compared to getting eight hours of sleep nightly. Study author Dr Shuai Yuan, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, commented on the research. “Our study suggests that sleeping for seven to eight hours a night is a good habit for lowering the risk of PAD.

“Insufficient night-time sleep and daytime napping have previously been associated with a raised risk of coronary artery disease which, like PAD, is caused by clogged arteries.”

Dr Yuan added: “In addition, sleeping problems are among the top-ranked complaints in PAD patients.

“There is limited data on the impact of sleep habits on PAD and vice versa, and our study aimed to fill that gap.”

For the research, the team studied 650,000 participants in a two-part analysis.

In the first part of the study, the researchers carried out an observational study that explored the link between sleep duration and the risk of PAD.

Dr Yuan pointed out the limitation caused by an observational analysis in that you can’t be sure if poor sleep habits caused PAD or if PAD caused poor sleep habits.

The second leg of the experiment involved randomised controlled trials consisting of data from 608,610 adults.

“Mendelian randomisation is a robust method for evaluating causality and provides more certainty about the results,” added Dr Yuan.

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While the observational analysis found that people who slept less than five hours a night were nearly at double the risk of PAD, the randomised controlled trials supported this finding.

Dr Yuan said: “The results indicate that brief night-time sleep can raise the chance of developing PAD, and that having PAD increases the risk of getting insufficient sleep.”

What is PAD?

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that PAD “is the narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs”.

Mainly caused by a build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, the condition can lead to pain in the legs during physical activity.

The sensation of pain, aches, or cramps while walking can develop in the buttock, hip, thigh, or calf, the CDC says.

Physical manifestations of PAD can include:

  • Hair loss
  • Smooth, shiny skin
  • Cool skin
  • Pain while walking
  • Sores or ulcers.

To help prevent serious complications of PAD, your doctor might recommend taking an aspirin.

Any smokers who have PAD are strongly recommended to give up the life-threatening habit.

The NHS says: “Exercising regularly and not smoking are the main lifestyle changes that can ease the symptoms of PAD.”

It’s also important to “eat a healthy diet, lose weight (if overweight), [and to] moderate consumption of alcohol”.

The health body warns: “The symptoms of PAD often develop slowly, over time.”

Dr Shuai Yuan and his colleagues’ study was published in the European Heart Journal.

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