Having a healthy sleep pattern helps with overall health and well-being. If followed consistently, it could cut the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke among midlife and older adults, regardless of their genetic predisposition for these conditions, a study revealed.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a major global health concern, contributing significantly to morbidity and mortality. This year's statistical update from the American Heart Association reveals that nearly half of the U.S. population has some form of cardiovascular disease, which includes conditions like coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and high blood pressure.

"As the CVD burden continues rising in almost all countries, identifying modifiable risk factors for CVD prevention is urgent," wrote researchers of the latest study published in Jama Network.

For the study, researchers collected data from 15,306 participants between 2008 and 2018, while they were part of the Dongfeng-Tongji cohort an ongoing, prospective study in Shiyan, China. They found that 36% of the participants had consistently unfavorable sleep patterns, while 26% had consistently favorable sleep patterns.

After an average follow-up period of almost 5 years, 3,669 participants developed cardiovascular disease, which includes 2,986 cases of coronary heart disease and 683 cases of stroke. The analysis showed that participants who maintained consistently healthy sleep patterns had a notably reduced risk of developing new-onset cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke compared to those with consistently unfavorable sleep patterns. The interesting finding was that the genetic risk for cardiovascular disease did not modify these associations.

"In this cohort study, persistent favorable sleep patterns over 5 years were associated with a significantly lower risk of incident CVD outcomes during the subsequent 5 years. For individuals with higher genetic risk, those with persistent favorable sleep patterns had a lower risk of CHD and stroke. These findings highlight the importance of maintaining favorable sleep patterns over time," the researchers wrote.

However, the study has certain limitations. The sleep duration was calculated based on two questions about bedtime and wake-up time, and may have been overestimated by not distinguishing between time spent in bed and actual sleep time. Additionally, the researchers did not gather data on sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, and depression, which could have influenced the findings. Furthermore, because the participants were middle-aged and older Chinese retirees, the results may not apply to broader populations.