Sleep joins the list of eight key factors for heart health

Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis has been added to the American Heart Association’s list of key elements of cardiovascular health, expanding the list to eight factors that the association says can lead to a longer, better life. quality without heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and has been for a century, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2010, the AHA has focused on seven things: maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar at acceptable levels.

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Now, however, as noted in its report published in the journal Circulation, the AHA believes that healthy sleep should also be considered. The goal suggested by the group is 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day for adults and more for children (8 to 10 hours for 13 to 18 year olds, 9 to 12 hours for 6 to 12 year olds and 10 to 4 p.m. for children 5 and under).

Sleep has long been considered vital for good health, both physical and psychological. Sleep gives the body a needed break to heal and repair itself, allowing people to function normally when they wake up. But lack of sleep (or poor quality sleep) puts a person at higher risk for diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and more.

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In addition to adding sleep, the AHA tweaked some of the other factors on its list, which it dubbed “Life’s Essential 8.” For example, the topic of smoking was expanded to consider exposure to second-hand smoke and vaping, and cholesterol monitoring was changed to track non-HDL cholesterol rather than total cholesterol.

The AHA offers an online tool for people interested in checking their heart health and the risks they may face, based on the organization’s new checklist.

This article is part of the Post’s “Big Number” series, which briefly examines the statistical side of health problems. Additional information and relevant research is available via the hyperlinks.

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