Simple changes in ICU can help heart attack patients

To improve recovery for heart attack patients, hospitals should maintain normal day and night cycles for those patients during the first few days after the attack, say University of Guelph researchers.

Their new study shows for the first time that interrupting diurnal rhythms impairs healing immediately after a , said Prof. Tami Martino of the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Researchers already knew that circadian rhythms, or day-night cycles, can affect timing of a heart attack. This is the first study to show the importance of circadian rhythms during the few days after an attack.

The study led by U of G scientists appears this week online in Circulation Research journal.

"We have devised a simple way to better practise medicine to improve the outcome from heart attacks by considering normal circadian rhythms," she said.

She and PhD student Faisal Alibhai conducted the study with clinician collaborators, who are already looking at ways to use the results to change practices in intensive care units (ICU). "It has an immediate life application," said Martino.

Hospital ICUs are busy places at night, with noise, light, nursing and medical procedures, and other interruptions that disturb acutely ill patients.

The team induced heart attacks in mice, and then compared rodents held under normal light and dark cycles with others whose diurnal cycles were disrupted for five days after the attacks.

Early heart repair and remodeling were impaired in the disrupted mice. Diurnal disruptions interfered with their normal inflammatory and immune responses crucial for scar formation and healing.

"These mice were likely to go more quickly to heart failure," said Martino. "Disrupting circadian rhythms for the first few days after a heart attack worsens the disease outcome."

The first five days after a heart attack are crucial for proper scar formation, removal of dead tissue, proliferation of new cells and growth of blood vessels in the heart.

About 500,000 Canadians are living with heart failure, in which the heart is damaged or weakened by heart attack or other medical conditions.

A former volunteer at Guelph General Hospital, Alibhai said, "I never really considered how important sleep and are for heart health."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Daylight saving impacts the timing of heart attacks

Mar 29, 2014

Still feeling the residual effects of springing ahead for daylight saving time? The hour of sleep lost – or gained – may play a bigger, perhaps more dangerous role in our body's natural rhythm than we think. It seems ...

Intense light prevents, treats heart attacks

Apr 25, 2012

There are lots of ways to treat a heart attack – CPR, aspirin, clot-busters and more. Now CU medical school researchers have found a new candidate: Intense light.

Recommended for you

Viagra protects the heart beyond the bedroom

14 hours ago

Viagra could be used as a safe treatment for heart disease, finds new research published today in the open access journal BMC Medicine. The study reveals that long-term daily treatment of Viagra can provide protection for th ...

User comments