New research in Experimental Physiology may have figured out why lack of sleep increases susceptibility to heart disease, and allowing doctors to identify the patients who might need to change their habits before they develop disease.
In adults who regularly slept fewer than 7 hours per night, the levels of certain microRNAs, (molecules that influence whether or not a gene is expressed) were lower. These molecules play a key role in regulating vascular health and thus levels are now recognized to be sensitive and specific biomarkers of cardiovascular health, inflammation and disease. In other words, a lowered level of these molecules is associated with heart disease, so they could be used as a biomarker to determine who is more susceptible to disease.
Jamie Hijmans, an author on the study said: "The link between insufficient sleep and cardiovascular disease may be due, in part, to changes in microRNAs.