Researchers link lack of sleep, high blood pressure

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Not getting enough sleep may be a significant cause of developing high blood pressure, according to new research. Previously, studies connected cardiovascular problems with sleep disorders, but it was not clear what effects they might have on hypertension.

"People who sleep for only short durations raise their average 24-hour blood pressure and heart rate," said Dr. James E. Gangwisch, from Columbia University in New York. "This may set up the cardiovascular system to operate at an elevated pressure."

Sleeping less than six hours per night more than doubled the risk of developing high blood pressure in subjects 32 to 59 years of age, according to a report in the May issue of the periodical Hypertension. Researchers analyzed data from more than 4,810 people aged 32 to 86 who took part in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to reach their findings.

"If short sleep duration functions to increase blood pressure, then interventions that increase the amount and quality of sleep could potentially serve as treatments and as primary preventative measures for hypertension," researchers noted.
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