SEVEN in ten heart attacks and strokes would be prevented if we all got a good night’s sleep, a study suggests.
The problems kill 100,000 Brits a year, meaning tens of thousands of lives could be saved with the recommended seven to eight hours shut-eye a night.
Researchers followed 7,203 healthy over-50s for a decade, scoring them zero to five for sleep length and quality.
Most got three or four. Just one in ten had top marks.
The heart attack and stroke risk was 75 per cent lower in the best rested than the worst.
The danger fell 22 per cent for each sleep point score rise, a European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona heard.
The results have led scientists to call for better sleep education.
Dr Aboubakari Nambiema, of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, said: “Greater awareness is needed on the importance of good sleep for maintaining a healthy heart.”
Prof James Leiper, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “A good night’s sleep allows your body to rest, which relaxes your blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.
“But there are other ways that poor sleep could be increasing the risk of heart disease or stroke, including by increasing inflammation and affecting the area of the brain that controls stress hormone levels.”
Prof Russell Foster, from the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at Oxford University, said: “The mechanism, in my view, is abnormal activation of the stress response as a result of the need to override the lack of sleep.
“What we know is that you then have increased blood pressure, altered immune responses, inflammation… that long term can lead to a greater risk of stroke and heart attacks.”