Poor sleep quality linked to heart attack and stroke

The local heart and stroke charity, Croi, is supporting important research at the Clinical Research Facility in NUI Galway which is exploring a link between poor sleep quality and high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

On Monday September 16, Croi invites people to drop into the Croi Heart and Stroke Centre, Newcastle, Galway, anytime from 2pm to 7pm for a free blood pressure check. The check is aimed especially, but not exclusively, at those who are having difficulty getting to sleep at night; who wake frequently during the night; or who find that their sleep quality is affecting their lives. Croi nurses together with nurses from the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway will be on hand to measure blood pressure and provide advice and assistance.

Poor sleep is defined as spending more than 30 minutes trying to get to sleep at night or having difficulty staying asleep, waking many times during the night.

Most people are aware that dietary issues, such as too much or too little salt, can lead to high blood pressure. Equally, excess weight and a lack of exercise are known contributory factors to elevated blood pressure. Disturbed sleep, however, is a new area of research being led by researchers in Galway and most people are unaware of the far reaching effects it can have on their health. In the current economic climate, more people are having sleepless or sleep disturbed nights, which in turn is leading to high blood pressure and its associated risks. If this link is understood, it could lead to novel lifestyle interventions which will help reduce the risk of chronic illness or death at the source.

It is estimated that at least 30 per cent of the Irish population have high blood pressure, rising to more than 70 per cent of those over the age of 70 years. By 2020, it is estimated that around 63 per cent of Irish people over the age of 45 years will have high blood pressure, representing a 28 per cent increase in just 10 years.

It is estimated that at any time, over 40 per cent of people with high blood pressure are not aware that they have it. This is because there are no real symptoms of high blood pressure and strokes or heart attacks seem to appear suddenly without warning.

Large clinical studies worldwide have shown that reducing blood pressure to normal levels can reduce the incidence of strokes by more than a third, and heart attacks by a quarter. It is extremely important, therefore, to monitor blood pressure and to have it treated when it gets too high.

The event is kindly supported by Bristol Myers Squibb; a global biopharmaceutical company that researches and develops innovative medicines to combat serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, and psychiatric disorders. BMS employs more than 27,000 people worldwide and approximately 550 people in Ireland in its Global Manufacturing and Supply (GMS ) and commercial operations.

No appointment is necessary for the blood pressure check on Monday, September 16. People are encouraged to call into the Croi Centre anytime between the hours of 2pm and 7pm that day. Light refreshments will also be available.

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