Time of day affects severity of heart attack, study finds

21 November 2011

The severity of a heart attack and subsequent [heart]? failure depends on the time of day, according to a new study.

Published in the journal Circulation Research, the research by scientists at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation found that the greatest amount of injury to the heart occurred when a person had a heart attack between 01:00 and 05:00 GMT.

Jay Traverse, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and physician researcher with Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, said: "We were trying to ascertain whether the time of day of when a heart attack occurs influences the amount of damage that the heart sustains, or was this just a phenomenon exhibited in rodents."

The researchers discovered that the size of the heart attack and later damage to the left-ventricular function were different dependent on the time on of onset of ischemia.

Mr Traverse added that it is important to understand that the heart's ability to protect itself against more severe damage varies over a 24-hour cycle and that this new research could help pharmacologists discover more cardiac drugs.

Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease, which is when a person's coronary arteries narrow due to a gradual build-up of atheroma within their walls.

Posted by Philip Briggs

Traverse, Jay H, et al., "Circadian Dependence of Infarct Size and Left Ventricular Function After ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction", Circulation Research, November 17th 2011

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