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Lack of sleep linked to high blood pressure

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK Apr 4 (Reuters) Skimping on sleep over a prolonged period appears to be an important risk factor for developing high blood pressure, according to a report in the medical journal Hypertension.

''People who sleep for only short durations raise their average 24-hour blood pressure and heart rate,'' Dr. James E.

Gangwisch, from Columbia University in New York, said in a statement. ''This may set up the cardiovascular system to operate at an elevated pressure.'' Previous reports have linked sleep disorders with cardiovascular disease, but it was unclear if sleep deprivation in people who did not have a sleep disorder affected the likelihood of developing hypertension.

The new findings are based on an analysis of data for 4810 subjects, between 32 and 86 years old, who participated in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Hypertension was diagnosed in 647 subjects during the follow-up period from 1982 to 1992.

Among the subjects between 32 and 59 years of age, sleeping less than 6 hours per night more than doubled the risk of developing hypertension, the report indicates. Moreover, this association remained significant even after taking obesity and diabetes into account.

Further studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms linking sleep deprivation with high blood pressure, the researchers note. ''If short sleep duration functions to increase blood pressure, then interventions that increase the amount and quality of sleep could potentially serve as treatments and as primary preventive measures for hypertension.'' Reuters DKS BST0959

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