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Severity of Heart Attacks Affected by Time of Day

According to a recent study published in Circulation Research, scientists have found that the time of day during which a heart attack occurs is related to the amount of damage it causes. If you’re going to have a heart attack, you don’t want to have it between 1 and 5 a.m. as this period of time is associated with particularly large amounts of tissue death. Tissue death, as you might be able to guess, is not a good thing.

Previously, this same correlation had been observed in rodents, but researchers couldn’t tell if it also applied to humans until just recently. After doing a retroactive study of 1,031 acute heart attack victims, the researchers were able to isolate 165 ideal candidates for study; individuals who had had their first heart attack, had easily identifiable “start time”, and suffered from no other tissue damaging complications before the heart attack proper.

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What they found was that patients who’s heart attack started and who’s tissue death began within that 1-5 a.m. window suffered more extreme tissue death and lasting damage than those who fell outside that time frame. The peak injury, which had occurred during that time frame, was 82% percent higher than the lowest injury, which occurred outside that window.

This doesn’t exactly suggest that heart attack damage is affected by the actual time of day per se, but rather has something to do with the circadian rhythm. What kind of application this information may have is hazy at best but the study’s senior author Jay H. Traverse thinks it could be of use to pharmaceutical companies that are trying to develop cardioprotective drugs.

So there we have it folks: Definitive scientific evidence that a heart attack is a bad way to start your day. Stick to Wheaties for breakfast and try to save the heart attacks for lunch.

(via EurekAlert!)

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