Surprising Factor Putting Your Heart at Risk

sleep and heart ageEvery year, you celebrate a birthday. But just because your age increases by one year annually, your internal organs could be much older or younger depending on your lifestyle.

In particular, your heart doesn’t simply age like you do. It can age much quicker or slower depending on your lifestyle habits. One lifestyle habit that has been found to accelerate excess heart age (EHA) is sleep.


A new study found that those who sleep for short or long durations have an older EHA than those who stick to the ideal seven hours of sleep. Greater EHA was seen among those who slept less than seven hours a night. Poor sleep in conjunction with poor sleep could increase the risk of cardiovascular complications.

Primary researcher and study author Julia Durmer explained, “These results are important because they demonstrate a quantitative method for the inclusion of sleep duration in the establishment and communication of cardiovascular risk for individuals. This could have utility in the clinical care of patients with cardiovascular risk, and for public health researchers interested in adding a sleep metric to future studies.”

The study included 12,775 adults aged 30 to 74 who responded to a health survey. Self-reported sleep duration was split into five categories – five hours or less, six, seven, eight, and nine hours or more of sleep. They used the sex-specific Framingham heart age algorithm to calculate each individual’s heart age and used other techniques to determine any relationship between sleep and EHA.

The research suggests that sticking to the ideal amount of sleep of seven hours a night is ideal for maintaining a younger EHA compared to sleeping more or less. Therefore, if you want to maintain a younger heart, you want to make sure you are sleeping adequately.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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