Sleep Debt Affects Cardiovascular Health in Older Women

woman sleeping, elderly
woman sleeping, elderly
Obesity, hypertension, and circadian misalignment may all result from sleep debt.

Variation in weekday and weekend sleep duration may be associated with decreased cardiovascular health and increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older women, according to data presented at the 2017 American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions, held November 11-15, in Anaheim, California.1,2

Researchers examined the effect of sleep debt, defined in the study as a difference greater than 2 hours in self-reported weekday vs weekend sleep hours, on cardiovascular health in older women (mean age, 72.2±6 years). Participants (n=21,561) did not have apparent CVD or cancer, and all were participants in the Women’s Health Study follow-up cohort. The ideal cardiovascular health metric (7 factors and behaviors defined in the AHA Strategic 2020 goals) was applied to all participants.

Women with sleep debt were more likely to be obese and have hypertension (P <.05 for all). Adjustment for age and race/ethnicity by means of linear regression models indicated that sleep debt decreased ideal cardiovascular health significantly. The addition of cumulative psychological stress factors resulted in the “largest attenuation of the magnitude of the relationship between sleep debt and ICH [ideal cardiovascular health].”

The researchers noted that variation in weekly sleep duration may also lead to circadian misalignment.

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  1. Cabeza De Baca T, Matshshita F, Redline S, et al. Sleep debt: weekday and weekend sleep differences in ideal cardiovascular health in women. Presented at: American Heart Association 2017 Scientific Sessions; November 11-15, 2017; Anaheim, CA. Abstract 798.
  2. Sleep deprivation may increase risk of cardiovascular disease in older women [news release]. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association. Published November 14, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2017.