According to a newly released study published in the journal The Lancet, patients might want to try and schedule their heart surgery for the afternoon, which is allegedly the period they are least likely to experience complications.
A French team of scientists conducted the research, which involved 298 cases of people who had had heart surgeries. The analysis compared which of the surgeries did or did not result in adverse conditions.
Heart Surgery More Successful in the Afternoon, But Why?
According to the paper, the reason is not the obvious suspect of the surgeons’ being tired in the morning but more awake by the time that lunch ends. Rather, it has to do with the body’s circadian rhythm. This helps regulate the body’s desire to sleep at night rather than during the day, as well as many other functions in other subtle ways.
Previous studies have demonstrated that heart attacks and strokes are most common in the morning, while the heart and lungs seem to work best in the afternoon. The French team established that the heartbeats rates are at their best then as well.
One of the study findings is that 54 of the morning patients had adverse conditions during their surgeries, compared to 28 of the afternoon patients. Meanwhile, afternoon patients were only about half as likely to have other complications, and one major event could be prevented for every 11 of such patients.
Heart surgery obviously takes a huge toll on the body. Doctors need to stop the patient’s heart, which limits its oxygen flow and which comes with huge risks. Finding the best time to conduct such surgeries could be a big boon for patients that have to undergo such procedures.
However, Bart Staels, an Institut Pasteur de Lille professor involved in the study, warns that it is not feasible to conduct all surgeries only in the afternoon, nor does his team wish to scare people away from having lifesaving procedures.
As it is, the study team next plans to test the effects of circadian rhythms on other kinds of surgery.
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