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Poor sleep quality increases risk of high blood pressure

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The quality of slow-wave sleep, a deep stage of sleep from which it is difficult to awaken, is a powerful predictor of high blood pressure among older men, say researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, together with colleagues at the University of California, San Diego. In research published in the October 2011 issue of Hypertension, scientists report that participants who spent less than 4 percent of their sleep time in slow-wave sleep, a percentage determined by measuring sleep durations and tallying the number of awakenings during the night, had an 80-percent increased risk for developing hypertension. In addition, the investigators found that this heightened risk was independent of the influence of breathing pauses during sleep, a condition known as sleep apnea. Study author Susan Redline, the Peter C. Farrell Professor of Sleep Medicine at HMS and Brigham and Women's, noted that although women were not included in this study, "those who have lower levels of slow-wave sleep may also have an increased risk of developing hypertension."

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