Grand Strand Medical Center - February 04, 2022

Most heart attacks happen randomly. Right? Maybe they occur more often while you’re out walking, at night when you are asleep or possibly when you are most stressed.

A lot of research studies have been done on the timing of heart attacks. As it turns out, there may be enough evidence to “predict” the season, day of the week and even the time of day that a heart attack is most likely to happen.

“Physicians have been trying to predict heart attacks for as long as there have been heart attacks,” said Dr. Randy Goodroe, Interventional Cardiologist with Grand Strand Heart & Vascular Care. “There is enough data out there that allows us to understand that more heart attacks take place during certain months of the year and at certain times of the day.”

In which season do people experience heart attacks the most?

Heart attacks are more likely to happen in winter and least likely to occur in summer. This is also true for other cardiovascular events. Lower temperatures can cause increased stress on the walls of the heart and reduce flow to the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

“The main risk factor is biological,” said Dr. Goodroe. “Cold weather causes blood vessels to contract, which can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Chest pain, due to coronary heart disease, can also worsen in winter when coronary arteries constrict in the cold.”

There is also typically more psychological stress, depression and decreased activity in the winter months. In fact, more people are likely to die from heart disease during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.

Heart attacks happen more on which day of the week?

People are more likely to have a heart attack on Mondays. The same goes for sudden cardiac death from heart rhythm issues and death from other heart diseases. This is mainly true for the working population and holds true for men and women.

The low stress on Sundays followed by high stress on Monday plays a major role in causing a heart attack. It’s possible that going back to work after the weekend break can cause increased stress hormones that lead to heart attack.

What time of day is a heart attack most likely to happen?

“Most heart attacks hit during the early morning hours from 4 – 10 am when blood platelets are stickier, and there is increased adrenaline released from the adrenal glands that can trigger rupture of plaques in coronary arteries,” said Dr. Goodroe.

For example, one study showed that you are three times more likely to suffer a heart attack at 9 am compared to 11 pm.

Statistically Speaking

Based on this research, heart attacks are most likely to happen on a Monday morning in the cold of winter.  

“Understanding and educating yourself about heart attack statistics and heart health as a whole is extremely important,” said Dr. Goodroe. “But the biggest predictor of heart attack is age, family history, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, excess weight, smoking and other lifestyle factors.”

Bottom line – take care of yourself and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your heart health.