MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
José M. Ordovás, PhD
Director Nutrition and Genomics
Professor Nutrition and Genetics
JM-USDA-HNRCA at Tufts University
Boston, MA 02111
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The current knowledge supports the notion that poor sleep is associated with cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Besides, there is some proof that poor sleep might be related to the development of atherosclerosis; however, this evidence has been provided by studies including few participants and, in general, with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Our research has used state-of-the-art imaging technology to measure plaque buildup in the arteries, and objective measures of sleep quantity and quality in about 4000 participants of the PESA CNIC- Santander Study. Moreover, this is the first study to look at the multiterritory development of plaques versus other studies that looked exclusively at the coronary arteries. Therefore, this combination provides stronger evidence than previous studies about the risk of poor sleep on the development of atherosclerosis.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The data show that people who sleep less than six hours a night may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared with those who sleep between seven and eight hours.
In addition, poor quality sleep also increases the risk of atherosclerosis—plaque buildup in the arteries throughout the body—according to the study. It should be noted that over sleepers were also at increased risk.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The study demonstrates that increased risk remains after controlling for other known risk factors, including poor diet and low levels of physical activity. Therefore, good sleeping habits, including duration and quality should be part of the recommendations to prevent the development of atherosclerosis, together with diet and exercise.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Whereas the study demonstrates that poor sleep associates with increased risk, several questions remain such as the mechanisms by which sleep contributes to the risk, independently of other risk factors. Moreover, whereas seven to eight hours of sleep per day seem to be a good recommendation for the general population, we don’t know the optimal recommendation at the personal level. Finally, intervention studies are needed to demonstrate that increasing the number of hours of sleep in poor sleepers bring down the risk of plaque development.
No disclosures or conflict of interest concerning the results of this research.
Association of Sleep Duration and Quality With Subclinical Atherosclerosis
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 73(2):134-144 · January 2019
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