In a recent interview with KXAN’s Erin Cargile, Dr. George Rodgers, a cardiologist at the Ascension Seton Heart Institute, explains a surprising correlation between daylight savings time and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. During the first two days following daylight savings time, research shows that the occurrence of heart attacks and other cardiac events actually increases by about 20 percent.
What’s the Connection?
While the lost hour of sleep on the Sunday night marking the beginning of daylight savings time in the spring can leave us feeling sluggish on Monday, it can also put our heart health at risk. Even during other times of the year, heart attacks more commonly occur the first thing in the morning, while the body’s systems are still “waking up,” Dr. Rodgers says. So when our bodies have to suddenly adjust to waking an hour earlier, those who are already at risk for heart disease are more impacted by this loss of sleep.
Conversely, research has shown that when we turn the clocks back in the fall, gaining an hour of sleep, there’s a 20 percent decrease in heart attacks. Watch Dr. Rodgers’ full interview with KXAN to learn more about these correlations.
Tips for Prevention
During daylight savings time, Dr. Rodgers suggests that those at the highest risk give themselves an extra hour of sleep on the Monday morning following the time change. The people who are the most at-risk group for heart attack are those who have already experienced heart problems.
In terms of general heart disease prevention, Dr. Rodgers emphasizes the importance of knowing your risk. He suggests taking advantage of easy screening processes like the Heart Healthy CT at Seton, which helps to detect heart problems early enough to prevent further complications.