The research focus of Naima Covassin, Ph.D., is understanding the impact of typical and disordered sleep on cardiometabolic health, with special emphasis on the role of sleep on blood pressure and body weight regulation. To this end, Dr. Covassin conducts mechanistic studies on healthy individuals and therapeutic clinical trials in patients with sleep disorders and cardiovascular diseases, collaborating closely with physicians and scientists from cardiovascular medicine, neurology and endocrinology.
Dr. Covassin's goal is to advance knowledge of the mechanisms through which poor sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and to contribute to the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies to reduce the disease burden associated with inadequate sleep.
- Sleep duration and cardiometabolic function. Chronic sleep deficiency is commonplace and has been linked to increased risk of adverse outcomes, although the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Dr. Covassin investigates the effects of experimentally induced sleep restriction on markers of cardiovascular and metabolic health, including ambulatory blood pressure, endothelial function and body fat distribution. She also studies the cardiometabolic benefits of behavioral sleep extension interventions in diverse populations.
- Sleep disorders in patients with cardiovascular disease. While sleep-disordered breathing is a known precursor of cardiovascular disease, the predictive role of other sleep features, including quality and quantity, is gaining growing attention. Dr. Covassin is studying the clinical implications of sleep disorders such as insomnia and restless legs syndrome using polysomnography- and actigraphy-derived sleep indexes in patients with cardiovascular disease. Currently, she is assessing comorbid sleep disorders and their prognostic relevance in patients with coronary artery disease who are undergoing cardiac rehabilitation.
- Sleep and women's health. Multiple sleep characteristics differ between men and women, and sleep difficulties often pattern by sex. Dr. Covassin researches sex-specific manifestations of sleep disturbances across the life span, with an emphasis on their implications for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in women. In an ongoing project, she is researching sleep disruption in women who underwent a hysterectomy that included removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) prior to natural menopause.
Significance to patient care
Sleep disturbances are highly prevalent, and their detrimental effects on health are increasingly recognized. Furthering the understanding of the mechanisms mediating the relationship between poor sleep and cardiovascular outcomes is critical. This increased understanding will lead to the development of enhanced prevention strategies and better risk stratifications. Dr. Covassin aims to devise and apply individualized interventions to improve health via sleep optimization to enhance care and improve cardiovascular risk.