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Too Little Sleep Bad for Heart

Sleeping Less Than 6 Hours Linked to Heart Attacks, Strokes

Study Details continued...

Sleeping too much may also be an issue. The study's findings show that people who sleep more than eight hours a night may be more likely to have the chest pain of angina and coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.

The researchers considered other factors that affect heart health, including age, gender, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

But they didn't consider sleep quality, says JoAnne Foody, MD, a heart specialist at Harvard Medical School and head of the ACC's patient site.

"Poor sleep quality is associated with a number of heart conditions. If you don't get deep sleep -- so-called REM sleep -- the body doesn't have the opportunity to bring blood pressure down. Poor sleep is also linked to obesity, which drives cardiovascular disease," she tells WebMD.

What is clear, Foody and Arora say, is that you need to talk to your doctor if you have trouble sleeping.

"It's not just a matter of being tired; there are lots of potential health consequences. And there's a lot we can do to help you," Foody says.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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