A New Study Says We're Most Likely To Have A Heart Attack On This Day Of The Week

The World Health Organization says that heart disease is the number one killer in the world, with 80% of deaths stemming from heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle factors such as an unhealthy diet, smoking, inactivity, and alcohol are key risk factors for heart disease and stroke because they're likely to raise your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight.

Stress can also factor into your risk for a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. Even a disruption of your circadian rhythm during the transition to daylight savings time can put you more at risk for a heart attack, since it disturbs your autonomic nervous system (via Cardiogram). According to a 2023 study presented at the British Cardiovascular Society annual conference, the day of the week also shows a higher incidence of severe heart attacks. The study found that out of the 10,000 people hospitalized in Ireland and Northern Ireland for a severe heart attack, more of these heart attacks occurred on a Monday.

Circadian rhythms might explain why

The researchers found a 13% higher rate of severe heart attacks on Monday than on other days of the week. Sundays also had a higher rate of heart attacks. They believed that although many factors could explain this "Blue Monday" effect, it also could be blamed on a disrupted sleep cycle from the weekend.

"It is likely to be due to the stress of returning to work," lead researcher and cardiologist Dr. Jack Laffan told the Daily Mail. "Increased stress leads to rising levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to a higher risk of heart attack."

The British Heart Foundation says although Monday saw the most severe heart attack cases, it doesn't mean that your risk of heart attack is lower on other days. Understanding why heart attacks are more likely on some days rather than others can help researchers save future lives. Heart disease takes one person's life every 33 seconds in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Work-related stress and heart disease

Work-related stress might drive you to finish tasks in the short term, but long-term stress can be linked to insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and muscle tension. Eventually, stress can lead to chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure. It can also lead to unhealthy behaviors, like smoking, unhealthy eating, and inactivity. Stress affects the parts of our brain linked to inflammation of our arteries, leading to heart disease.

If work-related stress disrupts your circadian rhythm, your heart doesn't get the rest it needs at night, according to a 2019 article in Circulation. That's because your heart rate and blood pressure rise and fall during this 24-hour cycle, with lower levels at night. According to a 2019 study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, getting less than six hours of sleep a night leads to a 20% higher risk of a heart attack — yet more than 9 hours of sleep increases your risk by 34%.