According to the world health organization, 31% of all deaths worldwide are caused by cardiovascular disease. They develop with poor diet, Smoking, lack of physical activity and poor sleep patterns. If scientists already know how food intake, nicotine and sedentary lifestyles affect the heart and blood vessels, the impact of an abnormal sleep regime has so far remained unexplored. However, the mystery is already solved — researchers from Harvard revealed an unexpected chemical reaction that links bad sleep with heart disease.
In their study, the team decided to understand how insufficient sleep leads to the development of one of the most common cardiovascular diseases-atherosclerosis. In the course of this disease, fatty plaques are formed in the human arteries, which prevent free blood flow and lead to a decrease in the elasticity of blood vessels and their 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 diseases, scientists conducted an experiment on mice. They were transferred to a high — fat diet and divided into two groups, one of which allowed sleep, and the other-no. The researchers noticed that in sleepy mice fatty plaques in the vessels are formed much faster and with greater intensity.
Chemical processes that lead to accelerated clogging of blood vessels were identified later. According to scientists, it all starts with the wrong work of the hypothalamus – the area of the brain that is responsible for regulating sleep and produces protein hypocretin. Insufficient sleep leads to a lack of this protein, and this increases the amount of hormone called colony stimulating factor that accelerates the production of white blood cells. Leukocytes, in turn, lead to the formation of plaques in the vessels and, consequently, to diseases.
The researchers were surprised by such a large role of hypocretins in the occurrence of fatal heart disease. For fun, they gave mice supplements with hypocretins, and their health improved markedly. Of course, this may not work in the case of humans, but scientists intend to conduct a few more studies and give an accurate answer.