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The Benefits of Adequate Sleep Extend to Your Heart

In a study done by the VA San Diego Health Care System which was a collaborative study between the pulmonary and cardiac divisions, there was noted to be a decrease between 38-49% in the incidence of acute myocardial infarctions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Possible explanations could be that patients may be avoiding medical care due to COVID-19, yet an increase in cardiovascular deaths was NOT seen during this time period. The authors postulated that due to the disruption in the normal work routine during the pandemic, working people have seen an INCREASE in sleep duration. Conversely, sleep deprivation has been associated with an increased incidence of MI, impaired glucose tolerance, increased obesity risk and pneumonia risk. In particular, males had a noteworthy increase in the duration of sleep, 6 hours and 40 minutes prior to the pandemic, increasing to 7 hours and 30 minutes with the pandemic start, when most of the study population had their work schedules changed to a “work from home” format.

Although it has been accepted that many people who might otherwise have visited a hospital ER with chest symptoms and been diagnosed with a MI, the significant decrease in the MI rate would make it unlikely that the avoidance of hospitals during this time period is the sole explanation for the lower MI rate. Other theories may be playing a role, but sleep deprivation especially is an accepted risk factor, especially in men and the longer sleep time that is now being seen in American society may be a slight “silver lining” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sometimes enjoyable features of life may actually be good for us.


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