Heart Rhythm in the Age of Daylight Savings Time


Surprising preliminary study results have been reported at this year’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2018 held Nov. 10, in Chicago. Researchers, led by Dr. Jay Chudlow, a resident at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, examined more than 6300 medical records of hospital admissions (ages 18 to 100,) who were admitted to the hospital for atrial fibrillation between 2009 and 2016.

The study results showed that for the four-day period following the springtime change, i.e., the start of Daylight Savings Time when people get one hour less sleep, the numbers of hospital admissions for afib were significantly higher than at other times of the year. Preliminary results showed that for the four-day period following the time change, 3.13 people a day were admitted for afib as compared to an average of 2.56 daily admissions for the balance of the year. Interestingly, in the fall, when people got one additional hour of sleep, there were no significant changes in the number of admissions.

Daylight Savings Affects Heart Rhythm

The implication is that the disruption to the regular sleep patterns appears to contribute to the initiation of afib episodes. Although these results are preliminary, they add substance to the belief that the changes associated with Daylight Savings Time are, in some ways, detrimental to overall health. If you suffer from afib, you should schedule a visit with your electrophysiologist at the Arrhythmia Centers of America to discuss the possible implication of this study.

Your body’s internal rhythm applies to more than just your heart. Everyone has a built-in clock and lives with a ‘programmed’ circadian rhythm. When this rhythm is disrupted, your body must adjust to the new routine. Below are several easy to do lifestyle changes that can help afib patients maintain a ‘steady state’ during the disruptive springtime loss of sleep.

Impact of Time Changes on Heart Rate Variability

  • Get to bed an hour earlier than usual. The quicker you adjust to the new time changes, the better.
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet. This is good advice for any time of year and is especially applicable for that transition period when our bodies are learning to live with a shift in sleep patterns. Foods high in protein, fiber, fish oils, anti-oxidants, and other nutrients can help you get through the change.
  • Adjust the times of your meals to match the time changes. Eating a light meal an hour or so earlier than usual also helps your body make the required adjustments.

While these are common sense measures and are valuable lifestyle choices at any time, it may make sense to pay particular attention to these during the period around the spring time change. If you suffer from afib, make an appointment with Dr. Shanti Bansal, the top electrophysiologist in Houston at the Arrhythmia Centers of America to discuss how changes in routines can affect your fibrillation. Dr. Bansal will provide a complete diagnosis and treatment plan including any suggestions for dealing with adjustments in sleep patterns or other routine changes. Call our offices today, 832-478-5067.

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