BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- Martin Young, Ph.D., in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Cardiovascular Disease is available for interviews via phone, email and the UAB News Studio.
Young says every cell in the human body has an internal time mechanism, also known as a circadian clock, which is responsible for driving rhythms in biological processes. These rhythms follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding to changes in light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Young says when these clocks are interrupted or experience a sudden change, there can be a number of different health effects.
“Moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10-24 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday and to some degree Tuesday,” Young said.
“Going from a sleeping state to waking is already a stressful event in the body,” he said. “When we have an abrupt change, like losing an hour of sleep with daylight saving time, our internal clocks don’t have enough time to prepare our organs.”
Young says there are many factors that may contribute to increased risk of heart attacks when internal clocks become out of synch with the environment. These include sleep deprivation, inflammation and sympathetic tone.
The American Heart Association recently released a statement, with regards to meal timing and cardiovascular health, stating that they recommend eating a greater share of the total calorie intake earlier in the day to have positive effects on risk factors for heart disease and diabetes mellitus.