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Bathing and sleeping: Risk reduction for heart disease

Risk factors for heart disease are abundant in modern India. Could simple, everyday activities such as bathing and getting enough sleep reduce the risk? 

heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in India — hypertension is one of its main risk factors

Heart disease accounted for 28.1 percent of all deaths in India in 2016, making the condition the country’s leading killer. Lifestyle changes have allowed a surge in rates of the condition, with factors such as sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary habits playing a major role in facilitating the rise of the disease.

Changes in work in particular have had a great impact in the development of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Population shifts towards dense urban centres have seen occupations change from physical labour in roles such as farm work to largely sedentary office jobs within the city. This accompanies a significant reduction in exercise rates and, by extension, physical fitness — a major factor in developing conditions such as hypertension and heart disease — as well as the stresses abundant in fast-paced, city-based lifestyles.

Studies are now suggesting that lifestyle factors and activities that many take for granted could play a key role in reducing the risk of heart disease. Regular bathing may be a means of reducing heart disease risk, according to a study carried out at Osaka University, Japan. “We found frequent tub bathing was associated with a lower risk of hypertension, suggesting that a beneficial effect of tub bathing on risk of cardiovascular disease may in part be due to a reduced risk of developing hypertension,” commented one of the research team. 

A further study, published in the journal Nature, has indicated that sleeping habits are another factor. The study found that a lack of sleep, or sleeping later than usual, results in an increased resting heart rate that continues into the following day. “We already know an increase in resting heart rate means an increased risk to cardiovascular health,” said Indian-origin researcher and study lead author Nitesh Chawla of the University of Notre Dame in the US. “Through our study, we found that even if you get seven hours of sleep a night, if you’re not going to bed at the same time each night, not only does your resting heart rate increase while you sleep, it carries over into the next day.”

When taking both studies into account, a nighttime routine of bathing followed by an early night could do wonders for India’s heart health. For those who cannot accommodate such a schedule, simply finding enough time to sleep could at the very least reduce the risk of developing cardiac conditions.


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