Local cardiologist says Daylight Saving Time’s sleep transition can affect your heart

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Dr. Shyam Bhakta says there's a simple step you can take now to help protect your heart

(WKBN) – Clocks will be moving forward an hour for Daylight Saving Time this weekend, but that transition can cause severe heart issues. One local cardiologist says you should be taking steps now to protect your heart.

Studies over the past year say a regular sleep schedule is key to heart health.

“Which, unfortunately, many of us don’t get because of our work schedules and busy family schedules. But it is recommended that we try to get a minimum of seven and preferably up to eight or even nine hours a night,” said Dr. Shyam Bhakta, an interventional cardiologist at Trumbull Regional Medical Center.

With Daylight Saving Time beginning this Sunday at 2 a.m., sleep is especially important this week.

The American Heart Association says heart attack risk jumps 24% the Monday after clocks move forward. The risk of stroke goes up 8%.

Dr. Bhakta says this makes sense because we should all aim to have a regular sleep schedule based on another study.

“If your average sleep time in a week varies by, I think it’s more than 90 minutes or so, in other words, if your awake or asleep times by more than an hour and a half during the week, it’s actually associated with a two-and-a-half fold increased risk of heart attacks over the five year study period,” Dr. Bhakta said.

But, Dr. Bhakta says there’s a simple step you can take now to help protect your heart.

“Maybe the week before, like starting this week for instance, since clocks are going forward next Saturday, maybe gradually going to sleep an extra 20 minutes per night to get that extra hour of sleep before Saturday may be helpful,” Dr. Bhakta said.

You should also be on the watch for potential heart attack symptoms after the time change — things like chest pain, increased fatigue or headaches and generally feeling unwell. If you experience those, Dr. Bhakta says to go to the emergency room.

“We know that it is safe to come to the hospital. You’re not going to get COVID if you come to the hospital. If you think you’re having a heart attack or stroke, it’s far more important that you call 911 and get help,” Dr. Bhakta said.

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