Frequent awakenings at night increased the risk of atherosclerosis

Intermittent night sleep increases associated with inflammation of white blood cells and triggers the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. To such conclusion experts, analyzing the quality of sleep and health 1600 older people. The research findings were published in an article for the journal PLOS Biology. As the authors note, improving the quality of sleep may become a new method for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis.

Poor sleep quality causes serious harm to health — in particular, increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Unfortunately, the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain poorly understood. According to one of assumptions, intermittent night’s sleep triggers an inflammatory reaction that in turn causes damage to blood vessel walls.

For checking this hypothesis came from a team of specialists under the leadership of Matthew Walker (Matthew P. Walker) from the University of California at Berkeley. For this, the researchers analyzed the sleep quality and health status of 1600 people over the age of 60.

The frequency of nocturnal awakenings in participants of the experiment was determined by three independent methods. One night they spent at home with sensors attached to the sleeping state — this approach is known as polysomnography. Another week of volunteer movement at night recorded by the method of actigraphy, pinned on the wrist of the device. In addition, they were asked to answer a questionnaire about sleep quality. The obtained data were compared with the severity of atherosclerosis (it was evaluated using the index of calcification of the coronary arteries) and the concentration of leukocytes in the blood.

After a thorough analysis, the researchers came to the conclusion that frequent night waking is really typical for people with more severe forms of atherosclerosis. Restless sleep was also a predictor of increased level of monocytes and neutrophils — types of white blood cells associated with inflammation and possibly involved in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. This relationship persisted even after the researchers took into account additional factors such as age, gender, race and Smoking.

Interestingly, this conclusion applies only to objective sleep disturbances identified by polysomnography and actigraphy. Subjective evaluation of the volunteers themselves did not allow to predict any concentrations of white blood cells, nor the risk of atherosclerosis.

Similar results were recently obtained in the experiment with laboratory mice. Artificial interruption of sleep has led to the fact that these rodents have increased levels of monocytes and neutrophils and accelerated the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.

The authors note that their findings allow you to add another item to the list of risk factors that affect the likelihood of development of atherosclerosis. It must be considered in the diagnosis of this condition. In addition, the improvement in sleep quality may be one of the new strategies against atherosclerosis.

Recently, Chinese researchers foundthat the risk of atherosclerosis is reduced in the frequent use of tea. According to them, this drink also reduces the chance of other cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart failure. However, the correlation is stronger for men, and it is only green tea.

Sergey Knee High

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