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Sleep and its Relationship to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease

Abstract

There are substantial racial/ethnic disparities in cardiovascular disease in the U.S., but few mechanisms have emerged as feasible intervention targets. A growing body of research suggests that racial/ethnic differences in sleep deficiency, including extreme sleep duration, sleep-disordered breathing, and insomnia, may help explain disparities in cardiovascular disease. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying racial/ethnic disparities in sleep. In this article, we review the extant literature on sleep and cardiovascular outcomes (eg, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease) and racial/ethnic differences in these relations. We also discuss possible mechanisms that might help explain racial/ethnic sleep disparities, including neighborhood disadvantage, psychosocial and occupational stressors, acculturation, and treatment access and adherence. More research is needed to establish causal linkages among race/ethnicity, sleep, and these mechanisms, but existing evidence suggests that targeting these factors in interventions may reduce racial/ethnic sleep disparities and improve primary prevention of cardiovascular disease among all racial/ethnic groups.

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Conflict of Interest

Karen Emmons has a pending R01 grant for social and environmental effects on sleep and hypertension in low income families. Orfeu Buxton received a grant from NIOSH, Sepracor Inc, NIA and NHLBI; served as a consultant for Dinsmore LLC and Matsutani America; gave expert testimony for Dinsmore LLC; and received honoraria from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. John H. Kingsbury declares that he has no conflict of interest. Susan Redline declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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Kingsbury, J.H., Buxton, O.M., Emmons, K.M. et al. Sleep and its Relationship to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep 7, 387–394 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12170-013-0330-0

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Keywords

  • Sleep
  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Disparities
  • Cardiovascular disease