Just a few days ago, we turned our clocks ahead as it’s time to “spring forward” into daylight savings time. We love seeing more sunshine, but did you know that the time change might make you more likely to have a heart attack? Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, offers tips to prevent a heart-related event with the time change. 

Why might more people have heart attacks with the time change?

Nurse Rose: Some studies have shown that more people have heart attacks on the first work day after daylight savings time begins because of strain placed on the heart from lack of sleep and adjusting to a new schedule. Getting a good night’s rest is important for heart health. Lack of sleep is linked to higher blood pressure and a higher risk of developing heart disease.

What steps should people take to help prevent a heart attack?

Nurse Rose: The best thing you can do is to be aware of how you’re feeling and to seek medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms.

  • Chest discomfort:You may feel pressure, squeezing, burning, indigestion-type discomfort, fullness or pain in the chest that lasts for 15 minutes or longer. This discomfort may be associated with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, weakness or feeling lightheaded.
  • Upper body discomfort: You may feel this in the arms, shoulders, back, neck, jaw or stomach that is persistent for 15 minutes or longer. This may be associated with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, weakness or feeling lightheaded.
  • Shortness of breath: You may have an unusual shortness of breath that lasts for more than 15 minutes
  • Other signs: You may feel cold sweats, nausea, weakness, fainting and feeling lightheaded.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to call 9-1-1 immediately. Minutes matter with a heart attack. Quick action and medical treatment can save lives and gives the doctors a better chance to save the heart muscle from permanent damage.

Protect your heart with these tips.

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet with a variety of fruit and vegetables
  • Do not smoke
  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep per night
  • Get an annual physical that includes blood pressure and cholesterol screening

Is your heart ready for the time change? Find out with our fast, free online health risk assessment.

Additional Health Tips from Rose

Find more family health tips online or tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to hear Rose live.