Lack of sleep doubles the risk of death if you have metabolic syndrome, research shows

Do you have high BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure? Better make sure you get your eight hours. Also in the news: China cracks down on unlicenced cosmetic surgery, and men need to open up about sexual and mental health

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 5:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 June, 2017, 5:23pm

Not getting enough sleep can double the chances of dying from heart disease or stroke, particularly in people with risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, US researchers said last week.

The findings, reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association, were based on 1,344 adults who were randomly selected for a sleep study in the US state of Pennsylvania. Participants’ average age was 49, and 42 per cent were men.

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They were recruited to undergo a series of health screenings, and spend one night in a sleep laboratory. Just over 39 per cent were found to have at least three risk factors for heart disease, which when clustered together are known as metabolic syndrome. These include a body mass index (BMI) above 30, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar levels and high triglyceride levels.

Participants were followed for an average of 16 years. Some 22 per cent died during that period. Those with metabolic syndrome who slept less than six hours in the lab were 2.1 times more likely to die of heart disease or stroke than those who did not have at least three risk factors for heart disease.

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“The short sleepers with metabolic syndrome were also 1.99 times more likely to die from any cause compared to those without metabolic syndrome,” the study said.

The high-risk participants who got more than six hours of sleep faced a 1.49 times higher risk of dying than healthier subjects. Experts recommend that adults get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

“If you have several heart disease risk factors, taking care of your sleep and consulting with a clinician if you have insufficient sleep is important if you want to lower your risk of death from heart disease or stroke,” says the study’s lead author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, an assistant professor at Penn State College of Medicine.

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The study was described as the first to measure sleep duration in a laboratory setting, rather than relying on patient reports. Researchers said it was also the first to examine the impact of sleep duration on the risk of death in those with multiple heart disease risk factors.

China gets tough on quack cosmetic surgery

Chinese authorities have launched a year-long crackdown on practitioners of unregistered cosmetic surgery. The new campaign, launched by the country’s health ministry in conjunction with internet, drug safety and industry regulators, will also focus on illegal advertising and the unauthorised production and supply of drugs and appliances used in cosmetic surgery.

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The report said there are tens of thousands of cosmetic surgery practitioners in China, but fewer than 3,000 are registered with the authorities. It said unlicensed facilities are responsible for more than 60 per cent of serious medical complications arising from cosmetic procedures, with some patients known to have gone blind as a result of improperly administered injections.

In a document published last weekend on its website, China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission said “lawless elements” had been involved in the illegal manufacture and use of cosmetic drugs such as collagen and botulinum. It said it would establish a blacklist and punish firms involved in illegal practices.

Men don’t discuss sexual and mental health enough

Knowing your family history and hereditary risks is important in preventing health problems. But it’s a topic men tend to avoid, especially when it comes to sexual health.

A new US-wide survey commissioned by Orlando Health, a major health care provider in Florida, found that four out of five men have never talked to a family member about sexual health.

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Men under 35 lag far behind women of the same age, who are about 90 per cent more likely to talk to family members not just about sexual health, but also health issues that tend to run in families, such as cancer and mental illness.

Learning about family health history at a younger age is important because men are likely to be most sexually active from 18 to 34, and also most likely to start a family between these ages. Knowing their risks can help men notice any developing symptoms and start medical treatment as soon as possible.