Death from sleep? A dangerous link to high blood pressure and stroke risk

According to new research, interrupted sleep is linked to high blood pressure and the risk of stroke.

A study by the American Heart Association shows a link between frequent sleep deprivation and high blood pressure.

  • In adults, frequent or habitual daytime sleepers had a 24% higher risk of stroke and a 12% higher risk of high blood pressure than never sleepers.
  • Experts say that while sleep deprivation is not harmful to health, it can be a sign of poor sleep quality.
  • Compared to occasional sleepers or never sleepers, a higher percentage of heavy sleepers were male, had lower education and income, and reported daily drinking, smoking, insomnia, snoring, and being a late night person.
  • The results of Mendelian randomization showed that the risk of high blood pressure increased by 40% if sleep frequency increased by one category (from never to sometimes or sometimes to usual).

According to a new study published on July 25, 2022 HypertensionJournal of the American Heart Association, Interrupted sleep is associated with high blood pressure and risk of stroke.

For the study, scientists in China investigated whether high blood pressure could be a potential factor in high blood pressure and/or stroke. This is the first study to investigate whether frequent sleep is associated with high blood pressure and ischemic stroke using long-term participant observational analyzes and Mendelian randomization—genetic risk testing.

“These findings are particularly interesting because millions of people sleep regularly or every day,” said Ye Wang, Ph.D., MD, professor and chief of the Department of Anesthesiology at Central South University Xi’an Hospital. corresponding author of the study.

For the study, the researchers used data from the UK Biobank. This large biomedical database and research resource contains anonymized genetic, lifestyle and health information from half a million UK participants. Between 2006 and 2010, UK Biobank recruited more than 500,000 participants aged 40 to 69 living in the UK. Participants provided regular blood, urine, and saliva samples, as well as detailed information about their lifestyle. The daytime sleep frequency survey was conducted 4 times between 2006 and 2019 in a small subset of UK Biobank participants.

Wang’s team excluded records of people who had had a stroke or had high blood pressure before the study began. That left about 360,000 participants to analyze the relationship between sleep and first reports of stroke or high blood pressure, over an average of 11 years. Participants were divided into three groups: “never/rarely”, “sometimes” or “often”.

The study found:

  • A greater percentage of regular eaters were male, had lower education and income levels, and reported daily drinking, smoking, snoring, insomnia, and being a late night compared to never or sometimes;
  • Regular sleepers were 12% more likely to have high blood pressure and 24% more likely to have a stroke than those who never slept;
  • Participants younger than 60 who didn’t sleep regularly had a 20% higher risk of high blood pressure compared to people of the same age who didn’t sleep at all. After age 60, regular sleepers had a 10% higher risk of high blood pressure compared to those who reported never sleeping;
  • Three-quarters of the participants remained in the same sleep category throughout the study;
  • The results of Mendelian randomization showed that the risk of high blood pressure increased by 40% if sleep frequency increased by one category (from never to sometimes or sometimes to usual). High sleep frequency has been associated with a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure risk.

“The reason for this is that while napping itself is not harmful, it may be because many sleepers have a poor night’s sleep. “A poor night’s sleep is associated with poorer health and not enough sleep to compensate,” says Michael A. Granner, Ph.D., MTR, is a sleep expert and author of the American Heart Association’s new Life’s Essentials. 8 Cardiovascular Health Score, which added sleep duration as 8 in June 2022th Metrics to measure optimal heart and brain health. “This study replicates other findings that generally show that getting more sleep is associated with an increased risk of heart health problems and other issues.” Grander is director of the Sleep Health Research Program and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The researchers recommend further research into the relationship between healthy sleep, including daytime sleep, and heart health.

Several important limitations of the study should be noted. The researchers only collected the frequency of daytime naps, not their duration, so it’s unclear whether sleep duration affects blood pressure or stroke risk. In addition, sleep frequency is self-reported without any objective measurements and cannot be quantified. Furthermore, the study participants were mostly middle-aged and older adults of European descent, so the results may not be generalizable. Finally, scientists have yet to discover the biological mechanism by which daytime sleep affects blood pressure regulation or stroke.

Reference: Ming-Jing Yang, Zhong Zhang, Yi-Jing Wang, Jin-Cheng Li, Qiu-Lian: “Association of Sleep Frequency with Hypertension or Ischemic Stroke Supported by Mendelian Randomization in Predominantly Middle-Aged European Subjects with Prospective Cohort Data” Guo , Xiang Chen and E. Wang, 25 Jul 2022, Hypertension.
DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.122.19120

Co-authors Ming-jin Yang, MD; Zhong Zhang, MD; Yi-jing Wang; MD; Jin-cheng Lee, Ph.D.; Ku-liang Guo, candidate of medical sciences; Xiang Chen, Ph.D

The National Basic Research and Development Program of China financially supported this research.

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