We're Most Likely To Have A Heart Attack At This Time Of Day

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that someone in the United States has a heart attack every 40 seconds. A heart attack might start slowly with chest pains, but women might also experience shortness of breath or pain in the neck or jaw. Some heart attacks go unnoticed because they have no symptoms.

Your heart works hard throughout your day, carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body while shuttling carbon dioxide out of your system (via NHS Inform). Your blood is under a certain amount of pressure to do this to ensure enough blood is circulating. Heart disease occurs when fatty tissue builds up in your arteries, making your heart work harder. A heart attack will occur when some of this fatty tissue breaks off and clogs one of the arteries. Because your stress hormones are more elevated in the morning to help you wake up, you're more likely to suffer from a heart attack in the morning, according to Healthgrades.

Other factors that lead to increases in morning heart attacks

Your circadian rhythm can affect your blood pressure and heart rate. Because these are both higher in the morning hours, a heart attack is more likely to occur, especially if you disrupt your circadian rhythm, according to a 2019 article in Circulation. According to a 2014 study in Blood, a specific protein that prevents the breakdown of blood clots, prothrombotic plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, peaks in the morning hours. This could be one of the reasons why heart attacks are more likely to occur in the morning. Your adrenal glands also secrete more adrenaline in the morning, which can cause tears in some of the plaques in your coronary arteries, according to Grand Strand Health.

Some heart attacks might be worse in the morning. A 2011 study in BMJ Heart investigated the impact of the time of day on ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), which indicates damage to the heart's lower chambers.

Reducing heart attacks in the morning

Researchers are looking at the effect of a specific protein, Kruppel-like factor 15 (KLF-15), on people with heart disease. A 2020 study in Circulation found that this protein has a protective effect on the heart and is at its highest in the morning. People with heart disease have lower levels of this protein. Researchers are looking for ways to target KLF15 as a treatment for heart disease (via a 2019 review in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology).

In the meantime, you can improve your heart health by getting between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise a day, according to Mayo Clinic. Heart-healthy diets like the DASH eating plan can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol by limiting sugar, salt, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, and saturated fats. Although a healthy weight can reduce your risk of heart disease, your waist circumference can give you a better estimate of belly fat, which is linked to heart disease. Aim for lower than 40 inches around the waist for males and 35 for females. Reducing stress and getting quality sleep each night will also reduce your risk of heart attacks.