Good sleep linked to lower risk of atrial fibrillation, other cardiac arrhythmias

A healthy sleep pattern has long been associated with good cardiovascular health. Now, new research has linked healthy sleep with significantly lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias, according to an NHLBI-funded study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).    

For this prospective, observational study, the researchers developed an index score (0-5) for healthy sleep patterns which comprehensively integrates five aspects of sleep behaviors, including sleep quality and duration, insomnia, snoring, and excessive daytime sleepiness.   

Then, they examined data from 403,187 participants from the UK Biobank and found that, compared with individuals with a low healthy sleep score (0-1), those who scored a 5 had 29% lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation.   

Prevention of cardiac arrythmias, which are a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, especially stroke and heart failure, is an urgent public health priority.   

“The results of the current study, together with our prior work, emphasize the importance of improving the overall sleep behaviors in the prevention of cardiovascular disease at an early stage among the high-risk populations,” the researchers said. “Our findings lend support to potential interventions targeting the improvement of multiple sleep behaviors in the prevention of arrhythmias and cardiovascular disease risk in general.”