Studies show that the heart beats to a circadian rhythm; a roughly 24 hour cycle in which physical, mental and behavioral changes keep the body in sync with its surroundings by responding to light and darkness in the environment. Sudden cardiac death (unexpected fatal heart stoppage) is more likely to occur soon after waking in the morning and late at night.
Researchers identified a protein (kruppel-like factor 15) controlled by the body clock, finding that its levels rose and fell during the day. The protein influences ion channels (which allow movement of ions across cell proteins), controlling the heartbeat.
Professor Darwin Jeyaraj (Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine), one of the researchers involved in the study, said: “Our study identifies a hitherto unknown mechanism for electrical instability in the heart. It provides insights into day and night variation in arrhythmia susceptibility that has been known for many years.”
Fellow researcher, Professor Mukesh Jain, said: “We are just scratching the surface. It might be that, with further study, assessment of circadian disruption in patients with cardiovascular disease might lead us to innovative approaches to diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.”
It seems beneficial to be more in tune with our bodies and its rhythms, and to honor its varying needs throughout the changes of day and night, as well as the seasons. Being more aware of our physical self could aid us in preventing some of the imbalances and illnesses which often surprise us when they manifest.
To read more about the study, visit the journal Nature.
Click here to read more about Circadian Rhythms.