How poor sleep leads to heart disease and death?
According to the World Health Organization, the cause of 31% of all deaths worldwide are cardiovascular disease. They develop when unhealthy diet, smoking, lack of physical activity and the wrong sleep mode. If scientists already know how the consumption of food, nicotine and sedentary lifestyle affect the heart and blood vessels, the impact of irregular sleep patterns so far remained unexplored. However, the mystery has been solved - Harvard researchers have identified an unexpected chemical reaction that links poor sleep to heart disease.
In their study, the team decided to see how lack of sleep leads to the development of one of the most common cardiovascular disease - atherosclerosis. In the course of the disease in human arteries fatty plaques are formed, which impede the free blood flow and lead to a decrease in elasticity of blood vessels and inflammation. Subsequently, there are more serious problems, such as seizures, and stroke, which can cause death.
To identify the chain of chemical reactions that link poor sleep with cardiovascular disease, the researchers conducted an experiment on mice. They were transferred to a diet high in fat and divided into two groups, one of which permitted the dream, and the other - no. The researchers found that mice carotid fatty plaques in blood vessels are formed much faster and with greater intensity. Chemical processes that lead to faster clogging blood vessels were identified later. According to scientists, it all starts with the malfunction of the hypothalamus - a brain area that is responsible for the regulation of sleep and produces a protein hypocretin. Insufficient sleep leads to a lack of this protein, which increases the amount of a hormone called colony stimulating factor, accelerating the production of white blood cells. Leukocytes, in turn, lead to the formation of plaques in the vessels and hence to disease.
The researchers were surprised by such a large role of hypocretin in the occurrence of fatal heart disease. For fun, they gave the mice supplements hypocretin, and their state of health has improved markedly. Of course, this may not work in the case of humans, but scientists are going to spend some more research and give an accurate answer.
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