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Common sleep problems may increase risk of metabolic syndrome

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Individuals who have difficulty falling asleep or snore loudly during the night may benefit from cholesterol testing. A new study has found that these individuals are significantly more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a collection of symptoms that includes high cholesterol.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, large waistline and insulin resistance. Taken together, these symptoms lead to a dangerously elevated risk of diabetes and heart disease.

For the study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh administered questionnaires to more than 800 participants about their quality of sleep. They then tracked participants' medical records for a period of three years. Researchers found that the inability to fall asleep and snoring increased an individual's risk of metabolic syndrome by 70 to 80 percent.

"This is the first prospective study to show that a broader array of commonly reported sleep symptoms, including insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing symptoms, predict the development of the metabolic syndrome, a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease," said Wendy M. Troxel, who led the study.

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