Posts tagged heart disease
Suppose you put in an all-nighter at work. From your perspective, sacrificing a couple of hours of sleep is no big deal. You might feel a little sluggish in the morning, but it’s nothing that a cup of coffee can’t fix, right? Unfortunately, that’s where you are wrong. Sleep deprivation does more than just make you tired. Receiving too little sleep can have a negative long-term effect on the body, especially the heart.
The Toll of Working Long Hours
It’s no secret that people in the United States often work too much, but some jobs require that they do so. The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) noticed that a lot of high-stress jobs were taking a toll on workers. These jobs include fire and emergency medical services, as well as medical residencies and more. Often, they have to go above and beyond to fulfill their services, and that requires working up to 24-hour shifts. Doing work like this frequently has some an impact on how the body functions and the RSNA wanted to find out exactly how.
Sleep and the Heart
In a study that included 20 radiologists (19 men and one woman), researcher tested their cardiac function before and after a 24-hour shift. They were able to do this by using a cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging with strain analysis. As predicted, strain, blood pressure, and heart rate increased significantly.
Study author Daniel Kuetting, M.D., from the department of diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the University of Bonn in Bonn, Germany had this to say: “For the first time, we have shown that short-term sleep deprivation in the context of 24-hour shifts can lead to a significant increase in cardiac contractility, blood pressure, and heart rate.”
While this study needs a larger test base, it shows that further research is warranted. It is also a warning for workers in high-stress positions. The toll sleep deprivation takes on your heart can lead to further complication and if you want to remain healthy for a long time, it may be time to reconsider sleeping less than 3 hours a night.
Scientists have shown that those with breathing problems—and especially sleep apnea—are at a greater risk for certain heart diseases. Sleep apnea is one of the most common, and under-diagnosed, sleep disorders in the United States today. A major symptom of sleep apnea is persistent snoring, because snoring signals that the airways are being blocked in some way. While snoring is an unpleasant reminder that the person is not getting the proper sleep he or she needs, it doesn’t stop there. Many are ashamed of going to a doctor for snoring, and others are simply unaware that this is a small sign of a much larger dilemma. Many snoring cases contribute to the number of people diagnosed with sleep apnea in the US each year. Researchers have also looked at the various ways that breathing problems persist beyond sleep, particularly how breathing and sleep apnea can lead to heart disease. .
Recently researchers have found some evidence of how breathing problems and sleep apnea affect heart disease and stroke, but exactly what creates this link has eluded scientists so far. Researchers at the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine conducted a study involving nearly 40 volunteers, with half of them having moderate to heavy sleep apnea, and the other half with mild to no sleep apnea symptoms. For all of the volunteers, the team of researchers did a full diagnostic of their sleep patterns and overall health, eliminating other sleep disorders that could corrupt the results of the study. They had all the volunteers ride on stationary exercise bikes for a long duration – to exhaustion – while at times slowly increasing the resistance of the exercise bikes in order to simulate someone riding a bicycle up a steep hill. The results of this study were startling.
The researchers measured what is called the VO2 max: a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen the body can absorb through breathing during strenuous exercise. They measured and compared the results of those with moderate to heavy sleep apnea to those without sleep apnea of the same age, gender, and body mass index. From the comparison, they learned that those with sleep apnea had, on average, a 14% lower VO2 max than the control subjects. This deviance increased when the subjects with sleep apnea had a higher rate of breathing – for 10 seconds or more – per each hour of sleep. This shows that breathing problems persist beyond sleep for those suffering from sleep apnea, and that these results may be early indicators of the link between sleep apnea and heart disease and stroke. Since most who have sleep apnea are not diagnosed until serious complications arise and are often obese, thus already at a higher risk for complications later in life, it is imperative that people know if they have sleep apnea. The sooner you discover you have this treatable disorder, the sooner you can be on the road to recovery.