MONDAY, Nov. 28, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- The severity of a heart attack can be affected by the time of day it occurs, a new study suggests.
The analysis of data from more than 1,000 heart-attack patients revealed that the greatest amount of heart injury occurs when people have a heart attack between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The peak amount of damage that occurs during this time is 82 percent greater than during the time of day when injury is the lowest.
The findings could help lead to new ways to prevent heart attack, according to Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital researchers.
The research builds on previous research done with rodents.
"We were trying to ascertain whether the time of day of when a heart attack occurs influences the amount of damage that the heart sustains, or was this just a phenomenon exhibited in rodents," said study senior author Dr. Jay Traverse, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute.
"It is important to understand that the heart's ability to protect itself against more severe damage varies over a 24-hour cycle. Identifying those protective changes may be particularly relevant for pharmaceutical manufacturers that are seeking to develop cardioprotective drugs," Traverse added in a Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation news release.
The study was published online in the journal Circulation Research.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart attack.