Sleep Problems May Raise The Risk Of Heart Disease In Middle-Aged Women

A recent research suggests that middle aged women who have ongoing insomnia or get little sleep each night may be at greater cardiovascular risk.

Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in Canadian women, and once women hit menopause, their risk of developing it increases. The research found that women with persistent insomnia may experience a significantly elevated risk of cardiovascular disease compared with women who had few insomnia symptoms over midlife. The findings underscore the importance of considering sleep patterns when evaluating women’s cardiovascular health and their future risk for related disease.

Sleep Is Critical For Middle-Aged Women

It is estimated that more than 1 in 4 women in their 40s and 50s have a tough time falling and staying asleep four or more times during the week. More than a third of women on average get less than seven hours of sleep per night. Perimenopausal women — or those no longer menstruating and entering menopause — often have the most difficulties with staying asleep, followed by postmenopausal women.

Generally speaking, poor sleep can result in a whole host of health problems for women, including cardiovascular diseases.

How much sleep do women need?

The average adult woman sleeps eight hours and 27 minutes per night. Studies show that women tend to sleep approximately 11 minutes more than men, despite having less time for sleep due to differences in paid and unpaid work, increased caregiving responsibilities, and family and social roles.

However, despite getting more sleep overall, researchers found that women experience lower-quality sleep than men. One reason could be that women are more likely to get up to take care of others, interrupting their sleep. Women are also more likely to nap during the day, which can further disrupt their sleep quality at night.

The link between poor sleep and heart diseases

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), also known as heart disease, affects the heart or blood vessels, or both. It is the leading cause of death in women in Canada, and according to the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, 24,000 Canadian women die from some form of CVD every year.

Poor sleep quality and insomnia are prevalent among women, especially during midlife, often defined as age 40 to 65 years, with up to 50% of women reporting sleep issues during this time. Symptoms of menopause can also contribute to sleep problems. The studies show roughly half of women going through menopause report trouble sleeping, particularly difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early.

Researchers found that persistent insomnia symptoms and short sleep duration were both associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

How Women Can Proactively Prevent a Heart Attack

As women’s bodies reach menopause, sometimes their sleep is affected. Women in menopause or perimenopause (the transition years before menopause) may complain that they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This is often due to hot flashes, night sweats or changes in mood.

Prevention strategies, including medical interventions and lifestyle modifications (get healthy sleep, eat better, exercises) can contribute to better cardiovascular health for women. This can lead to a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and other cardiovascular diseases. Talk to your health care professional and consider getting diagnostic testings if you are a woman approaching or in menopause and having trouble sleeping regularly. Early detection is crucial in reducing the risk of heart disease and providing you with a healthier quality of life now and in the future.

Investmed offers personalized heart disease screening package or a comprehensive package to analyze your health and wellbeing. Each package includes a comprehensive 1 hour physical exam and 1 hour review of results with recommendations to achieve optimal health. Call 236.766.0997 or schedule an appointment online and let InvestMed help you mitigate health problems before they arise.

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