Too little sleep could raise the risk of clogged arteries by 74%

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The importance of sleep goes absolutely undisputed. From raising your risk of dementia to increasing the likelihood of heart attacks, the lack of sleep can lay the groundwork for serious health problems. Now, a new study warns it could increase your risk of clogged arteries by a whopping 74 percent.

Ever since the Covid pandemic threw the world into chaos, sleep problems have been rife.

Whether there’s a lot on your mind or you spend too much time using screens, there are various factors that could be robbing you of a sweet slumber.

Worryingly, getting too little sleep at night could nearly double the risk of clogged leg arteries.

New research, published in the European Heart Journal, found that sleeping less than five hours a night was linked to a 74-percent increased risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD).

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Targeting more than 200 million people globally, PAD describes the accumulation of plaques in the arteries in your legs, restricting blood flow and increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Made up of fats and cholesterol, plaques eventually cause your arteries to become clogged.

Study author Dr Shuai Yuan, from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, said: “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.

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“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.”

The research team looked at 650,000 participants in a two-part analysis.

First, they carried out an observational study, which explored the link between sleep duration and daytime napping with the risk of PAD.

They then used genetic data of 608,610 adults to do naturally randomised controlled trials called Mendelian randomisation.

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Dr Yuan said: “Observational analyses are limited by reverse causality – meaning that if an association between sleep habits and PAD is found, we cannot be certain if sleep habits caused PAD or having PAD caused the sleep habits.

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

The observational analysis of just under 53,500 adults showed that those who slept less than five hours a night had nearly double the risk of PAD.

Furthermore, the Mendelian randomisation method supported this finding. The test revealed that while short sleep increased the risk of PAD, PAD was also linked to an increased likelihood of short sleep.

On the other hand, the findings also suggested that sleeping too much can also be risky. 

The adults who slept for eight hours or more had a 24-percent higher risk of developing PAD and daytime nappers had a 32-percent higher risk of PAD.

However, the researchers concluded that more studies are currently needed to confirm these associations.

Dr Yuan added: “Lifestyle changes that help people get more sleep, such as being physically active, may lower the risk of developing PAD.

“For patients with PAD, optimising pain management could enable them to have a good night’s sleep.”

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