Sleeping 7-9 Hours Without Apnea: A New Major Goal in Heart Health

Should doctors as as many questions of patients about their sleep as they ask about smoking, fitness, and diet?

Yes they should say researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Doctors are taught to use the American Heart Associatioin Life's Simple Seven (LS7) assessment of cardiovascular health (CVH).

These researchers evaluated CVH and recorded sleep quality and the presence or absence of sleep apnea as an eighth metric in relation to cardiovascular disease risk. This represents the first examination of adding sleep to the American Heart Association's LS7.

Methods and Results

The sample consisted of MESA (Multiā€Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) Sleep Study participants who had complete data on sleep characteristics from home SLEEP STUDIES, questionnaires, and outcome in terms of CVH events.

Their LS7 score was calculated but 4 different measures of sleep quality and duration were added to the LS7.

 There were1920 participants (mean age: 69±9 years; 54% female) and subjects were followed and average of 4.4 years. 

The bottom line was that those with the best LS7 scores (healthiest) AND the best sleep assessments had up to 80% lower odds of having heart events!

The LS7 score was not significantly associated with predicting events so the sleep data was crucial.

Some amazing findings in the study included that over 70% of the subjects were overweight or obese, over 60% got less than 7 hours of sleep, over 30% got less than 6 hours of sleep, and about 50% had evidence of moderate or severe sleep apnea on home testing


CVH scores that include sleep health predicted CVD risk in older US adults better than the traditional American Heart Association LS7 scoring.

The incorporation of sleep as a CVH metric, akin to other health behaviors, may enhance prevention efforts and doctors should ask detailed questions about sleep. More people may need home sleep studies to identify sleep apnea and arrange therapy. 

Dr. Joel Kahn

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