Most heart attacks happen randomly. Right? Maybe while you’re out walking or at night when you are asleep. Or maybe when you are most stressed.
A lot of research studies have been done on the timing of heart attacks. As it turns out, there may be enough evidence to “predict” the season, the day of the week, and even the time of day that a heart attack is most likely to happen.
“Physicians have been trying to predict heart attacks for as long as there have been heart attacks,” said John Spellman, MD, interventional cardiologist at Memorial Health Heart & Vascular Institute. “There is enough data out there that allows us to understand that more heart attacks take place during certain months of the year or at certain times of the day.”
Which season has the most heart attacks?
Heart attacks are more likely to occur in winter, and least likely to occur in summer. This is true for heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. Lower temperatures can cause increased stress on the walls of the heart and reduce flow to the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
“The main risk factor is biological,” said Dr. Spellman. “Cold weather causes blood vessels to contract, which can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Chest pain due to coronary heart disease, can also worsen in winter when coronary arteries constrict in the cold.”
There is also typically more psychological stress, depression and decreased activity in the winter months. In fact, more people are likely to die from heart disease over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.
Heart attacks happen more during which day of the week?
People are more likely to have a heart attack on Mondays. The same goes for sudden cardiac death from heart rhythm issues and death from other heart diseases. This is mainly true for the working population and holds true for men and women.
The low stress on Sundays followed by high stress on Monday plays a major role in heart attacks. It’s possible that going back to work after the weekend break can cause increased stress hormones that lead to heart attack.
Heart attacks are more likely during what time of day?
“Most heart attacks hit during the early morning hours between 4-10 a.m. when blood platelets are stickier and increased adrenaline released from the adrenal glands can trigger rupture of plaques in coronary arteries,” said Dr. Spellman.
For example, one study showed that you are three times more likely to suffer a heart attack at 9am compared to 11pm.
So…based on this information, heart attacks are most likely to happen on a Monday morning in the cold of winter.
“Understanding and educating yourself about heart attacks statistics is extremely important,” said Dr. Spellman. “But the biggest predictor of heart attack is age, family history, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, excess weight, smoking or other lifestyle factors.”
Bottom line…take care of yourself and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your heart health.