A new study from Penn State University indicates that getting enough sleep may be a matter of life or death for people with multiple heart disease and diabetes risk factors. Individuals who have metabolic syndrome were more likely to die of heart disease or stroke than those people who did not have these health issues, particularly if they did not get a good night’s sleep of six hours or more. For those who were able to have more sleep at night, the risks of death were lower.

“If you have several heart disease risk factors, taking care of your sleep and consulting with a clinician if you have insufficient sleep is important if you want to lower your risk of death from heart disease and stroke,” according to Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Ph.D., and lead author of the study and assistant professor at Penn State College of Medicine and sleep psychologist at the Sleep Research and Treatment Center of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Risk factors studied by the researchers included an individual’s body mass index that is higher than 30, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar and triglyceride levels. People with three or more risk factors, are considered to have metabolic syndrome, a significant health condition found in approximately a third of adults in the United States. The percentage of Americans with metabolic syndrome can vary based on age, gender, ethnicity, and other factors. These factors combined raise the risk of heart disease or diabetes more than any single factor alone.

“Sleep is an important component of the lifestyle management of heart disease and stroke risk and should be considered as carefully as diet and physical activity,” said Marie-Pierre St. Onge, Ph.D., chair of the 2016 American Heart Association panel which reviewed evidence on sleep and its connection to heart disease. “This study shows that the risk of the metabolic syndrome is clearly different based on one’s sleep duration.  As doctors receive information from other tests concerning heart disease risk, they should also ask about their patient’s sleep,” she added.

Source: American Heart Association News, “Study sounds the snooze alarm for people with metabolic syndrome,” (news.heart.org)

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