Chronic sleep deprivation in women tied to high blood pressure

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A recent study indicates that women experiencing sleep deprivation may be at an increased risk of developing hypertension.

NEW YORK, Nov 18, (Agencies): Prioritizing sleep is crucial for women, as a recent study published in the journal Hypertension reveals that chronic sleep deprivation can have significant health implications, including an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). Over a 16-year period, researchers at the Channing Division of Network Medicine of Brigham and Women’s Hospital tracked 66,122 women aged 25 to 42, none of whom had hypertension at the study’s onset. Alarmingly, 25,987 participants developed hypertension during this period.

While the study doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between lack of sleep and hypertension, lead study author Shahab Haghayegh, PhD, underscores the importance of recognizing sleep issues as potential indicators of underlying health concerns. “Our findings clearly demonstrate a substantial association between these two conditions,” Haghayegh states, emphasizing that clinicians should be vigilant in assessing the blood pressure of patients with sleep-related problems.

It’s essential to note that occasional restless nights may not pose a significant issue, but persistent sleep problems lasting at least three months, classified as insomnia, warrant attention. Allison E. Gaffey, PhD, a clinical psychologist and instructor of cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine, advises individuals to consult their primary care provider if sleep-related symptoms interfere with daily functioning or persist for an extended period.

The study also highlights other risk factors for hypertension, such as higher body mass index (BMI), lower physical activity, poor diets, and postmenopausal status. Menopausal hormonal changes have been linked to substantial sleep disturbances, with insufficient sleep increasing from pre-menopause to post-menopause by up to 18%.

However, hypertension is just one potential consequence of insomnia. Other health issues linked to poor sleep include inflammation, diabetes, mental health conditions (depression, anxiety, PTSD), major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), heart failure, cognitive decline, certain cancers, and stroke.

Cultivating better sleep habits can be instrumental in promoting more effortless and lasting sleep, according to Gaffey. Behavioral changes, such as maintaining a quiet and dark sleep environment, avoiding screens, and refraining from eating or exercising close to bedtime, can significantly contribute to better sleep quality.

Persistent sleep issues may necessitate consulting a physician for further evaluation, potentially involving a sleep study to identify the root causes. Depending on various factors such as gender, life stage, or existing health conditions, alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions may be explored. Recognizing the potential health risks associated with inadequate sleep, individuals consistently getting fewer than seven hours may benefit from seeking medical advice to address the issue promptly and prevent more severe complications like heart attacks or strokes.

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