If You Do This During The Day, Your Stroke Risk Soars, New Study Says
This seemingly harmless activity could put your health in danger.
When it comes to your stroke risk, underlying health conditions and lifestyle choices play a significant role. Factors that may increase your chances of suffering from a stroke include smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and eating a diet high in saturated fat. High blood pressure and obesity have also been linked to stroke risk. Now, a new study has found a connection between a common activity that many of us indulge in during the day and an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Read on to find out what it is, and whether you could be at risk.
Recognizing the early signs of a stroke is essential.
Stroke often appears suddenly and without warning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early signs of stroke include numbness or tingling on one side of the body, trouble speaking, vision problems, dizziness, severe headache, and confusion. If you experience these symptoms or notice them in others, seek medical attention right away. The sooner stroke victims get help, the better their outcome is likely to be.
Hypertension, on the other hand, is usually symptomless. Sometimes referred to as a "silent killer," if often doesn't manifest with symptoms until it's life-threatening. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises not to ignore your blood pressure just because you think a symptom will appear and alert you to the issue. Doing so is taking a gamble on your heart health—and potentially your life. Blood spots in the eyes, facial flushing, and dizziness are all signs of extremely high blood pressure, which is a major contributor to stroke risk.
A new study linked this activity with high blood pressure and stroke.
A new study published in Hypertension, an AHA journal, reveals that adults who frequently take daytime naps have a 24 percent higher likelihood of stroke and a 12 percent greater chance of developing hypertension. The researchers looked at over 358,000 people from the UK Biobank who were free of hypertension and stroke. The participants were used to analyze the relationship between napping and first-time reports of stroke or hypertension.
The researchers found that participants younger than 60 who frequently napped had a 20 percent higher likelihood of developing hypertension compared with people the same age who reported never napping. In addition, after age 60, napping was associated with a 10 percent greater risk of high blood pressure when compared with those who never napped.
"These results are especially interesting since millions of people might enjoy a regular, or even daily nap," said E Wang, PhD, MD, the study's author and a professor at the Department of Anesthesiology at Xiangya Hospital Central South University, in a statement released by the AHA.
Men who nap regularly are more likely to develop a stroke or hypertension.
While an afternoon nap may seem harmless, the study's findings prove that increased napping frequency is a risk factor for hypertension and stroke—particularly for men. Of the frequent nappers in the study, a more significant percentage were men with lower education and income levels than those who reported napping rarely or never. These men also reported smoking, drinking daily, insomnia, snoring, and being an "evening person."
This is an excellent reminder to adopt healthy lifestyle habits to lower stroke risk. Such habits include exercising regularly, eating healthy, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep.
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Sleep is an essential part of heart health.
According to the researchers, napping itself isn't unhealthy—but it could indicate poor sleep quality. If you need to get some shut-eye during the day to compensate for the lack of quality sleep at night, your heart health will suffer. The Mayo Clinic reports that occasional short naps generally don't affect nighttime sleep quality, but long frequent naps can disrupt restorative sleep and cause insomnia.
To lower your risk for hypertension and stroke, ensure you get as much quality sleep at night as possible, and keep naps to a minimum. Next time you feel the urge to lie down during the day, consider going for a brisk walk instead: It will help you feel energized and keep the afternoon slump at bay.