The Connection between Cardiovascular Disease and Sleep

wake upThere is growing research that cardiovascular disease and sleep are in bed together, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, The American Heart Association and other renowned research institutions.

Poor sleep can contribute to heart disease and heart disease can contribute to poor sleep. It seems to be a vicious cycle, which is why Level 1 Diagnostics is partnering with sleep centers across the country. Through the advanced cardiovascular testing, sleep patients and their doctors can learn if they are at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Research has shown that lack of sleep can cause calcium, and eventually, plaque build-up in blood vessels. The plaque may then break off and cause a heart attack or stroke.

Lack of sleep is believed to cause calcium and plaque build-up as well as elevated cortisol levels. High cortisol levels produce inflammation, which destabilizes plaque.

People with cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke have a high prevalence of sleep apnea. And people with sleep apnea have a high prevalence of cardiovascular disease.

Sleep apnea is a pattern of pausing in breathing or shallow breathing while one sleeps. Then gasping for air and snorting or snoring, then breathing naturally for a time. This can occur several times an hour and disrupt sleeping. This is usually caused because the airway is collapsed or obstructed while sleeping.

Untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, arrhythmias, obesity, and diabetes. It can also increase the risk of accidents, due to lack of sleep and tiredness.