Image: Shutterstock via Boston Magazine

You’ve heard of people getting a heart attack in the middle of a crisis, during intense physical activity, or when they are seriously stressed. But do you know, we are more likely to have a heart attack in the morning than any other time of day?

Doctors have long known that people are more likely to have a heart attack around the time when they are waking up from sleep than at other times.

“It is well established that heart attacks are most likely to occur in the mornings and within the first few hours of waking. One study showed that you are 3 times likely to suffer a heart attack at 9.00 a.m. as compared to 11.00 p.m.

“Proposed reasons for this include increased surges of stress hormones on waking and also the blood being less thin in the morning, both of which have been demonstrated.  Also, the well-documented morning peaks in heart rate, blood pressure and blood vessel tone may contribute,” says Dr Mustafa Ahmed. (myheart.net)

The surge in stress hormones helps you get up, but also slightly stresses the heart. “That, along with dehydration that occurs overnight and the overnight fade in protection from heart medicines, may explain why heart attacks are most common in the morning,” says a Harvard Health report.

Our blood platelets are also stickier in the morning. This has been linked to our body’s internal clock. Research showed that at around 6:30 a.m. the circadian system sends out an increased amount of PAI-1 cells which blocks blood clots from breaking down. The more PAI-1 cells in the blood, the higher the risk for a blood clot that leads to a heart attack.

According to studies, morning heart attacks may be more severe and may cause more damage to the heart than those that occur during any other time of day.

How to prevent? “When you wake up, the stress hormone cortisol is at its peak. Get out of bed slowly, stretch, and drink a glass of water. Dehydration makes it easier for blood clots to form,” advises Kristie Leong M.D.

Exercise, a proper diet, management of cholesterol and blood pressure levels and avoiding smoking are important keys to preventing heart disease.