Scientists find link between poor sleep, stress and heart problems in older women

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We all know that aging brings with it a range of health risks, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

These are often associated with irregular heartbeats known as atrial fibrillation (atrial fibrillation for short), which mostly affects older adults.

Atrial fibrillation can lead to dangerous health problems like stroke or heart failure.

But did you know that stress and poor sleep can also trigger these heart problems, especially in postmenopausal women? A new study sheds light on this overlooked link.

The study and its results

The researchers examined information from over 83,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79.

These women were part of a larger ongoing study called the Women’s Health Initiative in the US. The majority of the participants were white.

The women answered various questions, not only about their health but also about their life experiences.

They were asked about stressful events such as the loss of a loved one, illness, divorce, money worries and any form of abuse.

They were also asked about their sleep – whether it was good or bad and whether they had trouble falling asleep or woke up a lot during the night. Additional questions addressed their general mood and whether they had good social support.

Here’s what the researchers found: Over a quarter of the women developed atrial fibrillation within about 10 years. And guess what?

The more sleep problems they had, the more likely they were to develop this heart problem. For every additional point a woman scored on the “poor sleep” scale, her chance of developing atrial fibrillation increased by 4%.

In addition, each additional point on the stressful life events scale increased the likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation by 2%.

dr Susan X. Zhao, who led the study, said there is a strong connection between the heart and the brain.

She mentioned that the heart can respond to hormonal changes caused by stress and poor sleep, which may explain why women who are generally healthy but have these issues could still develop AF.

Why this is important and what’s next

So it turns out that mental well-being and sleep quality are crucial pieces of the puzzle for heart health, at least for older women.

However, the study has some limitations, e.g. B. that it only relies on the testimonies of the participants at the beginning of the study. The authors agree that further studies are needed to substantiate these results.

This research adds to the growing body of knowledge about how stress and sleep can affect our health in ways we might not have thought of.

It also emphasizes the importance of not only keeping an eye on common risk factors like high blood pressure, but also taking care of our emotional and mental well-being.

So if you’re an older woman who’s been through a lot of stress or has had a bad night’s sleep, maybe it’s time to talk to a doctor. Who would have thought that a good night’s sleep could be so important for your heart?

If sleep is important to you, please read studies on herbs that might help you sleep well at night, and these drugs might reduce the severity of sleep apnea by a third.

For more information on sleep, check out recent studies showing coffee increases physical activity, shortens sleep, affects heartbeat, and the results showing how you cope with “COVID somnia” and sleep well at night can.

The study was published in Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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