Circadian Rhythms’ Impact on Your Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 26, 2016

The circadian system signals the body to increase production of a certain protein that promotes blood clotting at about the same time as a person normally wakes up.

Circadian rhythms are biological processes that regulate numerous body functions throughout the day and recur according to roughly a 24-hour cycle.

Why do people have an increased risk for heart attacks in the morning? Why is asthma more severe at night? Why are epilepsy symptoms more prevalent at certain times of the day? Research suggests that these and other tendencies are driven by our circadian rhythms (body clock).

Understanding Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are biological processes that regulate numerous body functions throughout the day and recur according to roughly a 24-hour cycle. The timing of these processes is controlled by the brain’s central clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (located in the hypothalamus), as well as peripheral clocks located in virtually all organs and tissues. Although circadian rhythms are inborn, they adjust according to external cues – especially the presence or absence of light.

Studying Their Impact on Health

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Medical Chronobiology Program study how the circadian system impacts our health. They have shown, for example, that the system signals the body to increase production of a certain protein that promotes blood clotting at about the same time as a person normally wakes up. This may partially account for why we observe more heart attacks, stroke, and sudden cardiac death during the early morning hours.

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It’s a Wrap – Top Blog Posts in 2013

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 30, 2013

The blog team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is wrapping up 2013 with a selection of our most popular posts.  We’d also love to hear from you – what blog topics would you like to see in 2014?

We wish you a safe, happy New Year and thank you for your support.

 

Face Transplant Recipient Focuses on Her Gifts

Carmen Tarleton, got a new start on life when she became the fifth BWH patient to receive a face transplant. A team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and others worked for 15 hours to complete the surgery. Carmen’s story demonstrates how the generosity of neighbors, friends, and strangers can restore hope and healing.

 

Morning Heart Attacks: Blame It on Your Body Clock

Have you ever wondered why most heart attacks occur in the morning?  According to recent research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Oregon Health & Science University, you can probably place some of the blame on your body clock which drives day/night variations in a protein known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and ischemic strokes.

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Morning Heart Attacks: Blame It on Your Body Clock

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 4, 2013

Have you ever wondered why most heart attacks occur in the morning?

Have you ever wondered why most heart attacks occur in the morning? According to recent research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Oregon Health & Science University, it turns out that your body clock may play a contributing role.

“Our findings suggest that the circadian system, the internal body clock, may contribute to the increased risk for cardiovascular events in the morning,” says study author Frank A.J.L. Scheer, PhD, MSc, Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at BWH.

Your circadian system regulates and coordinates many of your body’s functions, including metabolism. It tells your body when you should sleep and when you should eat. In this particular study, the researchers found that the body clock drives day/night variations in the quantity of a protein known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and ischemic strokes. The protein is called plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1). It inhibits the breakdown of blood clots and, thus, is a major risk factor for blood clotting.

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