Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in the United States and other developed countries. Cardiac events are more common in winter, at the beginning of each month, on Mondays (in working people), and during the early morning hours of each day. Between 6 a.m. and noon, there is a 40% higher risk of heart attack, a 29% increased risk of cardiac death, and a 49% increased risk of stroke (if these events were evenly distributed throughout the day).
Several studies have reported a higher prevalence of coronary risk factors among rotating shift workers, including increased cigarette consumption, higher blood pressure, and increased cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Each of these risk factors can be controlled with lifestyle adjustments.
Read other postings throughout this blog for management ideas.
The circadian system (rhythm) is the body’s internal clock. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding to light and darkness. A master clock in the brain coordinates all the body clocks so that they are in synch. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have demonstrated that the circadian system regulates human platelet function and causes an increase in platelet activation; this ties into the increase in cardiovascular events in the morning.
In the BWH study, the researchers demonstrated that the body clock regulates platelet function and causes an increase in platelet activation corresponding to the increase in adverse cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and stroke in the morning. A high level of platelet activation can lead to adverse cardiovascular events by influencing blood clotting. The study found that platelet function is likely one of the factors contributing to the morning peak in cardiovascular events.
All shift workers should be sure to discuss their lifestyles with their doctors, including exploring how their schedules impact their circadian rhythms and their health overall.
2011 Circadian Age, Inc. ˜WorkingNights”