Time-sensitive clues about cardiovascular risk

Why do heart attack rates rise on Monday mornings and the week after daylight savings time begins?

Deep inside your brain is a small cluster of cells that serves as your body's master clock. These cells govern your circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal clock that keeps your body in sync with the day-night cycle. But nearly all your cells also have their own clocks to ensure that each one performs its unique role — such as producing proteins or releasing hormones — at the right time.

These biological timekeepers are under genetic control. But what happens if our behavior or environment is out of sync with our internal clocks? Understanding the potential health consequences of that misalignment is the focus of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, says Dr. Frank Scheer, who directs the program.

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