Not getting enough sleep? Your vascular cells are drowning in oxidants

A new study from Columbia University Irving Medical Center has found that even a mild chronic sleep deficit can damage the cells that line our blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease.

The study, which was conducted on women, found that after just six weeks of shortened sleep, the cells that line the blood vessels were flooded by damaging oxidants. And unlike well-rested cells, sleep-restricted cells failed to activate antioxidant responses to clear the destructive molecules.

The result: cells that are inflamed and dysfunctional, an early step in the development of cardiovascular disease.

“This is some of the first direct evidence to show that mild chronic sleep deficits cause heart disease,” says study leader Sanja Jelic, MD, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Columbia and professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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