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Why the American Heart Association now lists sleep as a measure of heart health

Blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol and blood glucose are some of the numbers that measure heart health. The American Heart Association has added sleep to that list. Why? Because research about how sleep effects those numbers keeps emerging. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and sleep expert about why sleep is vital to your heart health.

A man falls asleep on his desk because he's sleep deprived. The American Heart Association adds sufficient sleep to the list of heart healthy numbers people should know.
Nodding off during the day may mean you're not getting enough sleep. Adequate sleep is essential for optimal heart health.
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ROCHESTER — In June, the American Heart Associated added sleep to its list of numbers that measure and are vital to heart health. The organization's "Life's Essential 8" includes diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and sleep.

Why is sleep important for heart health? Dr. Virend Somers , a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and director of the Sleep Facility within Mayo Clinic's Center for Clinical and Translational Science, says sleep plays a major role in heart health because it can affect all of the other heart health numbers.

"There's a growing body of evidence that shows sleep is really important for maintaining cardiovascular health," Somers says. "Obesity, diet, blood glucose. All of those things are affected by sleep."

If you don't get adequate sleep, Somers say that unhealthy things may happen. For example, you may gain weight and your blood pressure may rise, increasing your risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack and stroke.

Watch or listen to Somers explain sleep's connection to heart health and why you should strive to get proper shut eye.

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For more stories about sleep and your health, click on the links below.

Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea can disrupt your life and undermine your health. If you have a combo of both sleep disorders, your risk of heart disease and dying may rise even more. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams checks out a new study and shares the researchers' recommendation for what to do if you have the dangerous combo.
Want to lose some weight? Get more sleep. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams checks out a study that shows sleeping more helps you reduce calorie intake without trying.

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Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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