Arkansas Times - February 25, 2016

Page 48

HEART HEALTH MONTH SCIENCE FINDING LINKS BETWEEN SLEEP AND A HEALTHY HEART

BY DWAIN HEBDA

E

is more common as people age, but can veryone knows the benefits of sound, appear as early as childhood. It not only puts restorative sleep on one’s mood, proa person at higher risk for cardiovascular ductivity and alertness but did you know disease, but also makes it harder to treat that good sleep is also a key element of such conditions. And, patients are often good heart health? caught in a vicious cycle as their lack of According to the National Sleep Founsleep results in ancillary behaviors that dation, not getting enough sleep carries only worsens their condition and degrades higher risk for cardiovascular disease, overall health. the leading cause of death in the United “If you’re not sleeping very well, that States and for stroke, the fifth-leading affects your dietary pattern,” Chakka said. cause of death in the U.S. In one study of “That tends to promote eating at the wrong 3,000 adults over the age of 45, those who times or staying up and watching TV until slept fewer than six hours per night were midnight and having a snack at 11 o’clock at roughly twice as likely to have a stroke or night. Obviously, that will add the pounds heart attack as people who slept six to that in turn will affect the blood pressure, eight hours per night. diabetes and heart conditions.” Rebecca Buerkle of the Southwest AfAs the condition has only been formally filiate of the American Heart Association diagnosed for about 30 years, there’s still in Little Rock said the risk for hypertension “In general, good sleep is very important for your immune system and overall health. much the medical community is discoveris also elevated, a condition for which There’s a definite connection.” ing when it comes to the full ramifications Arkansas is routinely ranked among the of sleep apnea on a person’s health. But this much is clear: sleep apnea has significant connection to heart health.” highest in the nation. In the most common form of the disease known as obSleep apnea is a disorder which causes disruptions in “Poor sleep quality is linked to high blood pressure; structive sleep apnea, lifestyle management can reduce breathing during the night, forcing patients to wake up to one in three Americans suffer from it,” she said. “Arkansas the likelihood and severity of cases. gulp air. The most severe cases of sleep apnea interrupts ranks seventh in the nation when it comes to hyperten“The best treatment is to lose weight; that’s the main sleep at least 30 times per hour and often significantly more. sion, which is called the silent killer because often people cause of sleep apnea,” Reddy said. “It’s not always that “Sleep apnea has been strongly linked to diseases like don’t have physical side effects that would make them obesity causes sleep apnea, there are other causes, but high blood pressure, heart diseases, especially coronary come into their doctor.” obesity is number one and losing weight will definitely help.” artery disease, and it can also contribute to heart failure,” While a college student’s all-nighter or an overworked Buerkle agreed, while noting cultural elements and social said Dr. Raghu Reddy, pulmonologist at CHI St. Vincent. single mother pulling a double shift isn’t likely to cause stigma can have a dampening effect on people adopting “It can increase the risk of having strokes and a condition these conditions, clinical sleep issues are a different story. lifestyle changes. Last year, Arkansas was declared the most called pulmonary hypertension which is a heart condition “In general, good sleep is very important for your immune obese state in the nation by Trust for America’s Health and where the lungs are also affected.” system and overall health. There’s a definite connection,”said Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. About one in five adults, and more men than women, Dr. Raj. Chakka, cardiologist and electrophysiologist at CHI “In the South in general, we do like our fried food and have at least mild sleep apnea. Reddy notes the condition St. Vincent Health System in Little Rock. “More specifically, CONTINUED ON PAGE 50

“Arkansas ranks seventh in the nation when it comes to hypertension, which is called the silent killer because often people don’t have physical side effects that would make them come into their doctor.” 48 48

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