Sleep and Heart Risk

Here’s another reason for getting a good night’s sleep: sleeping an extra hour a night may help control coronary artery calcification, a major risk factor for heart disease.

This finding is reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it’s based on a study that followed 500 healthy men and women, aged 35 to 47, for five years. After measuring their sleep patterns and examining their arteries with CT scans, researchers say that one extra hour of sleep is the equivalent of lowering systolic blood pressure to a normal 120 from 136.

Overall, the group averaged 6.1 hours of sleep a night. But after controlling for age, blood pressure, cholesterol and other factors, those who averaged an extra hour’s sleep every night reduced their risk of calcification by about one-third.

There is one note of caution. This is only one study, and more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.

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