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BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 07 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a3189

Sleep saves coronary arteries

Recent studies have linked the duration of sleep to several risk factors for coronary artery calcification (the accumulation of calcified plaques that has been shown to predict coronary events), including sex, age, education, body mass index, blood pressure, and regulation of glucose.

Now a population based cohort study of 495 healthy participants aged 35-47 years at baseline found that longer sleep, as measured by wrist actigraphy, is also directly associated with lessened calcification of coronary arteries five years later, independent of various potential confounders (age, sex, race, education, risk for apnoea, and smoking status) and mediators (lipids, blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes, inflammatory markers, alcohol consumption, depression, hostility, and self reported medical conditions). However, other measures of duration and quality of sleep, including self reports and fragmentation index, failed to show significant associations with incident coronary calcification.

At five years, 12% of participants had new coronary calcification detected by computed tomography. Sleeping one hour longer each night reduced the odds of being in this group by about a third, and this was modelled as equivalent in effect to a decrease in …

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