Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are among the most common diseases affecting adults in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are over 100 million American adults currently living with diabetes or prediabetes and more than 1.5 million people experience either a stroke or heart attack every year across the country.
But high blood sugar levels or blood pressure are not the only problems of people with diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They may also have a high risk for cancer and early death, according to a new study.
That is because of an unhealthy habit. Researchers found that the risk increases in adults who sleep less than six hours per day after experiencing a stroke, heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
The new study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, analyzed data on more than 1,600 adults, aged 20 to 74, who were part of the Penn State Adult Cohort. Researchers divided the participants into two groups based on their medical conditions.
One group included men and women who had stage 2 high blood pressure, while the half were diagnosed with either type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke. The researchers followed the participants from 1991 to 2016.
They looked into the quality and length of their sleep in the laboratory in the early years of the study and tracked causes of their death through 2016. Results showed that sleeping less than six hours made the participants with high blood pressure or diabetes two times more likely to die from heart disease or stroke.
Meanwhile, the group that developed heart disease or experienced stroke and slept less than six hours had three times higher risk of dying from cancer. However, the researchers said the people who slept for more than six hours had lower risk of early death despite having high blood pressure or diabetes.
“Our study suggests that achieving normal sleep may be protective for some people with these health conditions and risks,” Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, lead study author and an associate professor at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, said in a statement.
He said that healthcare provides should add sleep duration as among the factors to consider when checking patients. The researcher added identifying sleep issues of people with diabetes or cardiovascular disease could help improve prevention and treatments.
More studies are needed to further understand the effects of sleep in people with medical conditions. Fernandez-Mendoza said future efforts should focus on medical or behavioral therapies can help patients improve sleep and reduce risk of early death.
Lack of sleep can cause negative effects, such as increased risk of neurological disorders.