Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2014 Contents B28
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 1, 2014
Women who are often sleepy during the day tend
to have underlying conditions that raise their risk
of heart attack and stroke, according to a large new
Based on data for more than 84,000 US women,
researchers linked daytime sleepiness to a more than
doubled cardiovascular risk, but they say sleep dis-
orders and other illnesses are really to blame, making
the drowsiness a symptom, not a cause.
"This is what we thought was going on," lead
author James E Gangwisch told Reuters Health in an
e-mail. "We thought that it was most likely that the
daytime sleepiness was associated with insufficient
sleep, shift work, snoring, and sleep adequacy," which
are themselves associated with metabolic disorders
like diabetes that are risk factors for stroke and heart
attack, he said.
Gangwisch led the study at the College of Physicians
and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York.
He and his coauthors analysed data from 84,003
women in the Nurses Health Study II from 2001 to
2009. In the first year, the women answered a ques-
tionnaire that asked about sleep duration, distur-
bances, snoring and shift work.
One question asked how often a woman felt her
daily activities were affected because she felt sleepy,
and responses could range from "rarely" or "never"
to "almost every day."
The researchers kept track of other factors like
shift work, aspirin use, diabetes and high blood pres-
sure every two years until 2009.
By that time, 500 of the women had been diagnosed
with heart disease or stroke.
Women who reported being sleepy during the day
almost every day, which was five per cent of the total
group, were almost three times as likely to have been
diagnosed with heart disease as those who were
almost never sleepy during the day.
The women who were often drowsy were also
more likely to have unusually short or long sleep
durations, to have trouble getting adequate sleep, to
snore, do shift work and to suffer from high blood
pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and
Once other sleep variables and diabetes, high blood
pressure and high cholesterol were factored into the
calculations, daytime sleepiness by itself no longer
affected heart disease risk, according to the results
published in the journal Sleep Medicine.
According to a 2013 study in the same journal, for
example, people who slept less than five hours a
night were twice as likely to have high blood pressure
and high cholesterol as those who got seven to eight
hours a night (see Reuters Health article of November
6, 2013, here: http://reut.rs/1gVvsW2).
The new study was large and has many strengths,
said Kristen L Knutson, who studies sleep and heart
health at the University of Chicago Department of
Medicine and authored the 2013 paper.
No one study can completely answer any research
question, she told Reuters Health by e-mail, but
according to the new report, "sleepiness is a sign of
either insufficient sleep or disturbed sleep or under-
lying medical conditions, all of which has been pre-
viously associated with cardiovascular disease."
Coronary heart disease, the most common form
of heart disease, kills about 380,000 people each
year in the US, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. Any increased risk for heart
disease or stroke can be problematic, and ideally we
should identify ways to reduce risk, Knutson said.
"Get adequate good quality sleep by following
commonly recommended sleep hygiene techniques
such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, allowing
adequate time in bed to sleep, maintaining a com-
fortable sleep environment in terms of darkness,
temperature, and humidity," Gangwisch recommend-
ed. "Get adequate exercise but not shortly before
Daytime dozing may
signal heart disease risk
bedtime." People who are often sleepy during the
day should see their doctors, he said.
"Excessive daytime sleepiness could indicate prob-
lems with sleep that are treatable," he said.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Sleepiness is a sign of either insufficient sleep or disturbed sleep or underlying
medical conditions, all of which has been previously associated with
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