Daylight Saving Time Increases Risk of Heart Attack

by Jodee on March 21, 2011

Springing forward allows us to enjoy more daylight hours in the evening, but this annual practice also increases the risk of heart attack in the first few days immediately following the time change. Approximately one-quarter of the Earth’s population follows this shift in time twice a year.

Daylight Saving Time for residents of most parts of the United States and Canada starts at 2:00 a.m. local time on the second Sunday in March. The clock “falls back” on the first Sunday in November at 2:00 a.m. local time. Residents of Arizona (except the Navajo Nation) and Hawaii do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

In the European Union, Summer Time starts at 1:00 a.m. (Greenwich Mean Time) on the last Sunday in March. The switch to Standard Time takes place at 1:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.

Heart Attack Rates Go Up When Clock Springs Forward

According to results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, incidents of acute myocardial infarction increase during the first three business days immediately following the switch to Daylight Saving Time. Women are slightly more likely to experience a heart attack during this time than men.

People are most likely to have a heart attack on the Monday immediately following the switch. This may be linked to the stress associated with returning to work after the weekend, but the more likely cause is the loss of one hour of rest due to the time change.

Many people are chronically sleep-deprived. To try to stay on top of our To Do lists, we don’t get the recommended eight or nine hours of sleep a night. People who don’t get adequate rest are more likely to be overweight or obese, develop diabetes or nighttime high blood pressure.

Losing a single hour of sleep once is not likely to trigger a heart attack on its own, but when a person who is already vulnerable to this type of incident loses an hour of rest, it can be enough to do so. It’s important to know the warning signs of heart attack and get medical attention for them. To lower this risk around the time when the clock is moved forward or back, it’s important to establish a good bedtime routine that includes going to bed at the same time every night.

Getting a good night’s sleep is an important factor in being able to function well during the day. Skimping on rest interferes with the ability to learn and concentrate, as well as has a negative effect on your health. Start treating it as something that is essential to your survival, whether the clock is springing forward or falling back.

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