Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poor Sleep Linked to Hypertension and Preeclampsia

Research Links Poor Sleep and Snoring to Hypertension and Preeclampsia

Smoking. Poor Diet. High stress. Lack of exercise. All are things that raise our risk of hypertension. Although the causes of hypertension and preeclampsia are relatively mysterious, a new factor can be added to the list of possible culprits—poor sleep quality.

According to a study conducted at the University of Pisa in Italy, over 230 participants, both males and females whose average age was 58, who had problems sleeping were two times more likely to have resistant hypertension than those without sleep complications.
Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure. Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide defines resistant hypertension as blood pressure that remains high even when treated with lifestyle changes and medication. In fact, if blood pressure diagnosis is still high after treatment with three or more blood pressure medications, it is typically diagnosed as resistant hypertension. This condition increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

This research identified a link between poor sleep and hypertension; however, the exact cause of the link has not been identified.

Another link between getting better sleep and preventing hypertension was found by the University of Michigan in a study of over 1,700 women during the last twelve weeks during pregnancy. It is the largest study of this type and drew some interesting conclusions. This study found that women who experienced the onset of snoring during pregnancy have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure. University of Michigan concluded that if a definite link between snoring and maternal hypertension can be established, then up to 19% of hypertension disorders found during pregnancy might be treatable and relieved with treatment of sleep disordered breathing.

Untreated hypertension in a woman during pregnancy is potentially life threatening to both mother and child. Known as preeclampsia, it is the number one cause of fetal complications. For this reason, it is important to understand how to sleep better and lower your risk of preeclampsia in pregnancy.

How Can I Prevent Preeclampsia?
  • Understand the symptoms of hypertension. According to the University of Michigan, developing snoring during pregnancy could be a red flag.  Tell your doctor; it is now one of many possible signs of hypertension.
  • Ask your doctor if a sleep study may be necessary to diagnose a sleep disorder.
  • The ideal sleeping position for a pregnant woman is lying on her left side so that internal organs are positioned to allow blood flow.
Pregnant or not, getting better sleep is a simple way to try lowering your blood pressure. Along with the proper medications and a healthy diet and lifestyle, quality sleep may be an answer to many hypertension problems. As a college student, however, I know that getting enough quality sleep can seem nearly impossible with a busy schedule. There are a few simple guidelines I follow to keep my sleep schedule on track.

Tips to Sleep Better
  • Stay active. Your body will naturally sleep soundly if you get more physical activity.
  • Be consistent. Try to wake up at the same time every day, and try to get to bed at the same time every night. This creates a sleep schedule that will make waking up and falling asleep much easier.
  • Avoid physical distractions such as bright lights, buzzing cell phones, and any distracting background noise.
  • Try to ignore any mental distractions. Pushing tomorrow’s anxieties out of your mind is a critical step to falling asleep.
  • Cut caffeine out of your evening diet. It seems obvious, but many people do not realize that even after a few hours, caffeine can still have an effect. It’s safest just to consume any caffeine exclusively in the morning and afternoon.
Hypertension and preeclampsia are serious health issues and can be difficult to understand. There is plenty that is still unknown about these conditions. Research on this subject, however, is paving the way to a better understanding that will give way to more effective treatments. For now, recognize your symptoms and schedule an appointment with your doctor to address any concerns. Focus on incorporating quality sleep into your healthy lifestyle in the meantime— it may be the missing link to treating or preventing resistant hypertension. 

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer

1 comment:

  1. The exact cause of preeclamsia is not known, but it's thought it occurs when there is a problem with the placenta. this is new factor that poor sleep can also cause preeclamsia. thanks for alerting this new cauase of preclamsia.
    Know Pre pregnancy signs and symptoms