Naps of any duration were linked to half the risk of heart attack and stroke

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Napping just once or twice a week may cut the risk of heart attack and stroke, research suggests.

Experts writing online in the journal Heart discovered that naps of any duration were linked to half the risk of heart attack and stroke.

They studied data for 3,462 people living in Lausanne, Switzerland, who were aged 35 to 75 at the start of the study.

The group reported how often they took naps and researchers tracked them for an average of five years.

Of the people being studied, 58 per cent did not nap, about one in five (19 per cent) had taken one to two naps during the previous week, and about one in 10 (12 per cent) had taken three to five.

Some 11 per cent took six to seven naps per week.

Over the five-year follow-up, there were 155 cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

Napping once or twice a week was linked with a 48 per cent reduced risk of an event, even when other factors were taken into account.

No other associations were found.

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Vanessa Smith, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, said there are many other lifestyle changes known to keep your heart healthy.

She said: "Many of us might aim to grab an extra 40 winks here and there, but more evidence is needed before we can say that regular napping can help to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

"However, there are many other lifestyle changes you can make which we know help to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.

"Doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and eating a healthy Mediterranean-based diet can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

"We also know that treating high blood pressure and managing your cholesterol can reduce your risk of life-threatening heart and circulatory diseases."

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