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Semi-Annual Time Changes May Affect the Heart
Date:10/30/2008

the new research, the study authors used a registry with information on all heart attacks occurring in Sweden since 1987. Then they compared how many heart attacks happened during each of the first seven days after "spring forward" and "fall back," and the average of how many occurred on the corresponding weekdays two weeks before and two weeks after the day of transition.

There was a spike in heart attacks for the first three weekdays after the change to daylight saving time in the spring, an effect that was more pronounced in women. In the fall, there was a slight drop in the number of heart attacks on the Monday after the transition, but more heart attacks by the time the following Friday rolled around; this effect was more pronounced in men, the researchers found.

Regardless of the time of year, the effects tended to be stronger for people younger than 65 than for those over 65.

The study authors hypothesized that the increase in risk was likely due to the negative effects of sleep deprivation on heart health.

The next step in the research would be to see if prolonged sleep might reverse the problem, especially given that people in western societies tend to lack sleep. Their average night's rest has decreased from 9 hours to 7.5 hours during the last century.

More information

Visit the National Sleep Foundation for more on getting a good night's rest.

How to Adjust to the Time Change

The one-hour time change can be a big adjustment for many people, but there are ways to minimize the disruption.

Dr. David Rapoport, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at New York University Langone
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