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Daylight Savings Increases Heart Attack Risk

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:16 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Heart Attack, Daylight Savings, Sleep Deprivation, Stroke


IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons/ diagram of a heart attack/ author: U.S. Govt.

The end of daylight savings time is here this weekend and with it brings the risk of health problems more serious than lack of rest and increased grumpiness you are likely to feel, according to a new study in the New England Journal Of Medicine (NEMJ).

Researchers in Sweden found an increase in the number of heart attacks following the one hour time changes. They concluded that the chance of heart attack increases during the first three weekdays after changing the clock on daylight savings time, possibly due to sleep deprivation.

But after the clocks go back on Monday, people gain an hour of sleep and the heart attack risk declines.

A heart attack occurs every 20 seconds, with a heart attack death occurring every minute. In other words, according to the American Heart Association, more than 1.2 million people suffer from a heart attack in the United States each year, with about 38% of those cases resulting in death.

“Study findings suggest, those people at risk should avoid any sudden change in their biologic patterns,” said Dr. Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute and Dr. Rickard Ljung of the National Board of Health and Welfare, both in Stockholm.

Researchers wrote, “The earlier the wake time on the first weekday of the week and the slight sleep deprivation that accompanies, is said to have an adverse cardiovascular effect on some individuals. This would be less pronounced with the transition of daylight savings time because the switch gives back an hour and allows more sleep.”

When someone has sleep deprivation, that deprivation is likely going to affect their health, including the possibility of having a heart attack or stroke,” said Susan Zafarlotfi, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep-wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center.

The protective effect in the fall may last only a day because, “Monday is the day many of us will use the extra hour of sleep,” said Jansky in an e-mail.

Researchers found women more at risk of heart attack, than men during the shift to daylight savings time. While men were more likely to be protected during the Monday in the autumn, researchers said.

Daylight savings time affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide.

Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour on Sunday, November 2. #

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