Sleep Disorders

17 November 2010

Bad sleeping habits up heart risks in men

Men who don't sleep enough may be increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease, new research suggests.


Men who don't sleep enough may be increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease, new research suggests.

The notion is based on the finding that shorter duration of sleep was associated with a thickening of the men's neck's carotid artery wall. Such "intima-media thickness" (IMT) is considered to be a significant marker for heart disease.

What's more, the link between sleep and IMT seems to be gender-based, applying solely to men.

The study team, led by Megan R. Sands of Brown University in Providence, developed the new risk association based on an ultrasound analysis involving more than 600 middle-aged black and white patients drawn from across the country. Participants were between the ages of 37 and 52. Almost 60% were women.

Men sleep less than women

Sleep monitoring revealed that men slept less on a daily basis than women: 5.7 hours vs. 6.3 hours, respectively.

On average, the male patients also had thicker carotid artery walls: 0.74 mm for men vs. 0.68 mm for women.

Putting the data together, the authors determined that an extra hour of sleep translated into .021 mm less IMT, or neck artery wall thickening, among men. Women, by contrast, only experienced .002 mm less IMT as a result of an extra hour of sleep.

This study did not prove a cause-and-effect. And it was presented at a medical meeting. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)


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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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