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Can sleep deprivation cause high blood pressure?  (yes or no)

Middle-aged adults who sleep fewer hours appear more likely to have high blood pressure and to experience adverse changes in blood pressure over time, according to a study.

It is estimated that 1 in 4 adult South Africans (between the ages of 15 and 64) suffer from high blood pressure. It is one of the leading causes of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and premature death.

Kristen L. Knutson, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues studied 578 adults who first had their blood pressure and other clinical, demographic and health variables measured between 2000 and 2001. In 2003 and 2005, sleep duration was measured using surveys and wrist actigraphy, in which a sensor is worn on the wrist to record periods of rest and activity. Blood pressure, demographic and self-reported sleep information were measured again in 2005 and 2006.

Participants (average age 40.1) slept an average of six hours per night; only seven (1 percent) averaged eight or more hours of sleep. After excluding patients taking medication for high blood pressure and controlling for age, race and sex, the researchers found that individuals who slept fewer hours were significantly more likely to have higher systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure.

Sleeping less also predicted increases in blood pressure over five years, along with the onset of hypertension. Each hour of reduction in sleep duration was associated with a 37 percent increase in the odds of developing high blood pressure.

“Consistent with other studies, we observed higher blood pressure levels in men, particularly black men,” the authors write. “Also, as described in a previous report from this study, black men slept much less than white women. These two observations suggested the intriguing possibility that the well-documented higher blood pressure in African Americans and men might be partly related to sleep duration.”

“In summary, the present study provides evidence for a link between the duration and quality of sleep and high blood pressure levels using objectively measured sleep characteristics,” they conclude. “Intervention studies are needed to determine whether optimising sleep duration and quality can reduce the risk of increased blood pressure.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608162428.htm

In 2010, my best friend lost her mom to heart disease…I Think Red in support of my best friend.

Liezel van der Westhuizen
Feb 2012