July 14, 2024

The heart normally beats in a regular manner or rhythm and within a normal rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Disturbances in the heart’s rhythm and rate can lead to reduced blood flow and reduced oxygenation of body tissues and of the heart itself. Irregular heart rhythm can also lead to formation of blood clots inside a chamber of the heart called the left atrium.
These blood clots can impair the function of the heart or can dislodge and be “thrown” from the heart to different parts of the body. Blood clot/s thrown from the atrium to the brain can cause stroke. This can be life-threatening because it impairs oxygenation of blood in the brain.
Atrial fibrillation is a common type of heart rhythm irregularity. Among patients with this problem, 60 to 80 percent have hypertension, 25 to 30 percent have cardiovascular disease, 30 percent have heart failure (New York Heart Association Class 2 to 4), and 20 percent have diabetes mellitus.
Endurance athletics, cardiac surgery, pulmonary embolus, and inflammation in the lungs, hyperthyroidism, obesity, and sleep apnea syndrome can also trigger atrial fibrillation.
Age is also associated with atrial fibrillation.
In a study by Wasmer, K. et al. published in the Journal Geriatric Cardiology in 2017, it was stated that AF results from cardiovascular aging with changes in the structure and functioning of heart cells and also age-related comorbidities.
An interesting study that was recently presented showed a correlation between the duration of napping and occurrence of AF. The study included more than 20,000 subjects with an average age of 30 years and without AF at baseline. They were followed up for more than 13 years.
Sixty-one percent were women. The results were presented recently and stated that napping for more than 30 minutes during the day was associated with a 90 percent increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
According to the study, there was 42 percent reduced risk of AF among subjects who napped for less than 15 minutes and a 56 percent reduced risk for those who napped for 15 to 30 minutes as compared with subjects who napped for more than 30 minutes.

It has been shown in other studies that short naps lasting less than 30 minutes (10 to 20 minutes is recommended by some) may alleviate daytime sleepiness and fatigue and may even help improve cognitive function.
Longer naps not only may cause reduced alertness after waking but may lead to heart problems. A study by Dr. E. Wang published in the journal Hypertension in July 2022 showed that frequent or usual daytime napping in adults is associated with higher risks for high blood pressure and stroke. Further studies are needed to fully evaluate these correlations.

Medical consult is necessary to evaluate sleepiness during daytime or the need for regular or frequent naps. Frequent napping may be a sign of sleep problems like insomnia. Underlying treatable diseases leading to lack of sleep or shortened sleep at night have to be identified and treated to reduce the need for long daytime naps.