A third of life we spend in a dream. Good healthy sleep is the key to a full recovery of the body after a hard day. Sleep disorders affect many systems of our body and, in particular, the cardiovascular system. It would seem that the heart works without sleep breaks – how can the quality of the latter affect the activity of the heart muscle? But research shows that sleep and heart health are much more closely connected than one would expect.
Insomnia and heart disease
Almost every third adult suffers from insomnia to one degree or another. Someone tosses for an hour, trying to fall asleep, and someone does not sleep at midnight, feeling like in the morning as if he had not slept all his life. Doctors call insomnia the inability to sleep normally for at least three days a week for three months or more. According to Chinese researchers from Shenyang Medical University, insomnia increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and stroke, and its different aspects aggravate the situation in different ways: problems with falling asleep increase the risk of CVD by 1.27 times compared to those who does not suffer from insomnia; inability to fall asleep during the night – 1.11 times; a dream after which a person does not feel rested – 1.18 times. Insomnia affects women a little more than men, especially in the part of sleep, which does not give rest. This is due, in particular, to the fact that women in general, by their nature, more often than men suffer from insomnia. However, the difference between the sexes is not very great. Scientists explain the destructive effects of insomnia as follows. In this state, disruptions in the body’s metabolic processes, disruption of its endocrine functions occur, the activity of the sympathetic nervous system increases (the one that innervates all human internal organs, including the heart, of course), the blood pressure level and the concentration of cytokines (substances involved in inflammation). One study also showed that insomnia leads to an increase in the thickness of the intima-media complex (CMM) of the carotid arteries – translated from the ultrasound language by specialists, the median carotid membrane thickens, which increases the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. An unusual problem is faced by every fourth patient with a mechanical heart valve. The implant is so noisy that it prevents a person from sleeping. And if 23% of patients suffer from its noise at night, then 9% cannot forget about it even during the day. Women are less likely to hear the sound of a valve, but they are more annoyed about this than men. As a result, only half of the patients manage to sleep normally with a mechanical valve in their heart, 31% sleep poorly, and 17% suffer from real insomnia. Moreover, earplugs in this case are absolutely useless – and even make the sound of the valve louder. And it happens that it turns out to fall asleep right away, and a person sleeps, almost without waking up, but his sleep is still incomplete. Because he suffers from a variety of breathing disorders in his sleep.
Sleep disturbance in sleep
There is a feedback between sleep and heart. So, in 70% of those with chronic heart failure (CHF), respiratory impairment in sleep occurs. Moreover, only 2% of this category of patients pay attention to this and receive the necessary therapy. The rest prefer not to notice the problem. And in vain. Early recognition of the problem and timely action can improve the rate of cardiac output and reduce the risks of hospitalization and mortality. So, another study compared the quality of life of people with CHF before and after have already been on this issue in the hospital. It turned out that those who had problems with sleep were 2 times more likely to be hospitalized again with a relapse of the disease than those who were able to establish their sleep. The high-risk group includes people who have experienced percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), that is, angioplasty is an operation during which they clean the clogged artery with a special catheter and insert a tube-stent in it that prevents it from narrowing anymore. Among those who have undergone such an operation, 52% experience breathing problems in their sleep. 21.4% of this group suffer from cardiovascular problems. And among those who have undergone surgery, but sleeps well, only 7.8% are at risk of getting heart or vascular disease. Among sleep disturbances in sleep, sleep apnea should be taken as a separate group — a specific and rather dangerous condition in which the breathing of a sleeping person stops on average 5 or more times per hour of sleep. With one of the varieties of this pathology – the syndrome of central sleep apnea – the brain incorrectly sends signals to the respiratory system, which leads to cyclical respiration delays. People with central sleep apnea are 2.58 times more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, and this risk increases with age.
Lack of sleep (lack of sleep) and heart
Almost a third, more precisely, 29% of adult citizens sleep less than 7 hours a day – it is this duration of sleep that is considered the “subsistence minimum” to maintain the health not only of the heart, but also of the whole organism. Experts of the American Heart Association (American Heart Association, AHA) published the results of 16-year observations of more than 1,300 participants in a sleep research project (mean age 49 years). One third of the subjects experienced a so-called metabolic syndrome — a combination of several risk factors at once, including increased body mass index (more than 30 kg / m2), high cholesterol of low-density lipoprotein, fasting glucose and triglycerides, as well as hypertension. The presence of metabolic syndrome increased the risk of developing heart disease by 1.49 times – but this is only if a person slept for more than 6 hours. If he slept a little, less than 6 hours a day, then the probability of going to hospital with heart disease was already 2.1 times higher. That is, a healthy sleep for at least 6 hours significantly reduced the risks even in the presence of metabolic syndrome.
Sleep and health
Doctors recommend to appreciate your sleep. Its importance for heart health is no lower than regular physical activity and proper nutrition (lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish). Moreover, a healthy meal improves sleep. Diseases of the heart and sleep are aggravated by diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2 and obesity. Significant excess weight is an inevitable dyspnea at night, which in itself is harmful to the heart and leads to severe sleep disturbances. Patients with these diagnoses need to be doubly attentive to their health and monitor the duration and quality of sleep. People at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases should pay special attention to factors affecting the quality of sleep. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages should not be consumed before bedtime, any snacks should end 2-2.5 hours before bedtime, you should stop watching the news just before falling asleep and discussing world problems with a loved one. No overtime work should prevent you from getting your required 7 hours of sleep daily. By the way, there is no link between early awakening and heart problems, so the larks are not at risk and they can get up as early as they want – the main thing is that the duration of their sleep is at least 7 hours. But most importantly, if you have chronic problems with sleep, you should be attentive to yourself, regularly undergo examination by a cardiologist and check your health. And these problems can not be ignored, we must look for ways to solve them. After all, otherwise the heart is at stake.