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Reset Your Biological Clock and Prevent Heart Attack!

A recent research confirms the role of our body’s internal molecular clock in controlling blood// pressure.

It has been known for decades that heart attacks and strokes occur most frequently in the early-morning hours. Published online next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this report points to the novel possibility of modifying blood pressure and the early-morning risk of heart attack.

The upswing in heart attacks tracks with rising blood pressure, which undergoes a 24-hour, or circadian, rhythm. This rise in blood pressure is amplified in patients with high blood pressure. However, scientists have debated as to whether this event signifies a role for the molecular clock, or merely reflects the relationship of clock time to stresses in our environment – such as awakening, hurried dressing, and the rush to work.

“This study provides evidence that integrates both explanations for the variation in blood pressure with clock time and, by inference, the daily variation in heart attack and stroke,” explains first author and postdoctoral fellow Annie M. Curtis, PhD.

The molecular clock is a complex set of genes located in a discrete brain area that tightly regulate circadian rhythms in behavior, temperature, and metabolism. Researchers now appreciate that this “master clock” also interacts with clocks in almost all types of tissues.

Using mice in which the function of major clock genes have been disrupted, the investigators found distinct and complimentary effects on blood pressure and its circadian variation. What’s more, genes relevant to the production and breakdown of catecholamines – the hormones that equip mammals for “fight and flight” behavior were under the control of the clock.

Catecholamines – norepinephrine and epinephrine – undergo a daily variation, but also rise in response to stress. The investigators wondered if they might provide a link between the two explanations fo
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