A study published this week in the European Heart Journal found that sleep duration is associated with a risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels.
“Our findings provide clarity to previous studies of sleep duration and PAD risk, which have been limited and conflicting,” said the researchers.
To conduct the study, the team used a cohort analysis among 53,416 Swedish adults, as well as a case-control study of 28,123 PAD cases and 128,459 controls from the veterans affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP) and a cohort study of 452,028 individuals from the UK Biobank study (UKB).
“We conducted observational and Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses to assess the associations of sleep duration and daytime napping with PAD risk,” they said. Through the study, they found that evidence indicates there is a strong relationship between short sleep duration and increased risk of PAD.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “sleep needs can vary,” experts suggest that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, data from the Sleep Foundation indicates 35.2% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping on average for less than seven hours per night and almost half said the frequently feel sleepy during the day.
Results from the European Heart Journal study also “provide consistent support for short sleep duration as a harmful risk factor for PAD and highlight the possibility of reverse causality leading to distorted effects in observational analyses of sleep and PAD.”
Furthermore, researchers detected an elevated risk of incident PAD related to daytime napping in our cohort study, but the association was not verified by MR analysis.
“Several underlying mechanisms may explain the associations of short sleep duration with increased PAD,” the researchers explained. “Short sleep may activate autonomic nervous system with global sympathetic overactivity, increase oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, and impair metabolic regulation and coagulation system activity and therefore increase PAD risk.”
Short sleep has also been associated with “several cardiometabolic factors that are important risk factors for PAD, including obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes,” and study authors believe these relationships require more research.
“Our findings have potential clinical implications for diagnosis and management of both PAD and sleep disorders,” they said. In particular, the findings indicate that methods to improve sleep may have” downstream effects on PAD, and likewise interventions to treat PAD may improve sleep.”