"Sleep is not a trivial issue. In our study it was associated with double the risk of a heart attack and up to four times the risk of stroke," said professor Valery Gafarov of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"Poor sleep should be considered a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease along with smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet. Guidelines should add sleep as a risk factor to recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease," Gafarov said.

The research was part of the WHO programme "MONICA" (multinational monitoring of trends and determinants in cardiovascular disease) and the "MONICA-psychosocial" sub study.

The study included a representative sample of 657 men aged 25 to 64 years with no history of heart attack, stroke or diabetes in Novosibirsk, Russia. Sleep quality was assessed when the study began in 1994. Cases of myocardial infarction and stroke were recorded over the next 14 years.

During the study period, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of participants who had a heart attack also had a sleeping disorder. Men with a sleeping disorder had a risk of myocardial infarction that was two to 2.6 times higher and a stroke risk that was 1.5 to four times higher than those without a sleeping disorder between five and 14 years of follow up.


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