MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — If the weekend is a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of the workweek, Monday morning is a splash of cold water back to reality. Plenty of people dread the inevitable start of the workweek, but noteworthy new research out of the United Kingdom suggests Mondays can also be deadly. Researchers report deadly heart attacks are more likely to occur on Mondays than on any other day during the week.
Doctors at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the Royal College of Surgeons analyzed data encompassing 10,528 patients from all over Ireland (7,112 in the Republic of Ireland, 3,416 in Northern Ireland) admitted to hospitals between 2013 and 2018 with a ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Doctors consider STEMI the most serious form of heart attack, which occurs when a major coronary artery becomes completely blocked.
The research team observed spikes in rates of STEMI heart attacks at the start of the workweek, with rates reaching their highest levels on a Monday. Interestingly, higher rates of STEMI than expected were also seen on a Sunday.
Thus far, scientists have been unable to entirely explain the phenomenon known as Blue Monday. Earlier studies have indicated that heart attacks are more likely on Mondays, pointing to an association with our circadian rhythms, or the body’s sleep and wake cycle.
In the United Kingdom alone, there are more than 30,000 hospital admissions attributed to STEMI annually. Usually, this type of heart attack requires emergency assessment and treatment in order to minimize heart damage. This is normally accomplished through an emergency angioplasty, a procedure that can re-open the blocked coronary artery.
“We’ve found a strong statistical correlation between the start of the working week and the incidence of STEMI. This has been described before but remains a curiosity. The cause is likely multifactorial, however, based on what we know from previous studies, it is reasonable to presume a circadian element,” explains Dr. Jack Laffan, who led the research at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, in a media release.
“Someone is admitted to hospital due to a life-threatening heart attack every five minutes in the UK, so it’s vital that research continues to shed light on how and why heart attacks happen,” adds Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
“This study adds to evidence around the timing of particularly serious heart attacks, but we now need to unpick what it is about certain days of the week that makes them more likely. Doing so could help doctors better understand this deadly condition so we can save more lives in future.”
This research was recently presented at the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) conference.
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