In further evidence that the proverb “Hard work never killed anyone” is deceitful employer propaganda, a conference has learned the most deadly form of heart attacks are most common on Mondays, at least in Ireland. Although Monday being the most dangerous day confirms what many of us have suspected, the data come with a twist, as Sundays are also overrepresented. Perhaps even thinking about going back to work is a health hazard.
At the British Cardiovascular Society annual conference, attendees heard that more than 10,000 admissions to hospital for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland revealed more events on Mondays. Anti-vaxers keen to blame this suffering on mRNA vaccines will be disappointed to learn the admissions were between 2013 and 2018.
The findings were presented to the conference prior to publication, so most details are not available. However, study leader Dr Jack Laffan of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said in a statement; “We’ve found a strong statistical correlation between the start of the working week and the incidence of STEMI.”
“This has been described before but remains a curiosity. The cause is likely multifactorial, however, based on what we know from previous studies, it is reasonable to presume a circadian element.”
As Laffan noted, the dangers of Monday blues, as opposed to the made-up Blue Monday, have been reported previously, but the exact nature of the connection is uncertain. If it was simply a case of work-related stress being the problem, other working days should be equally dangerous. It’s possible the phenomenon is connected to the increased heart attacks recorded when daylight saving comes in each year. Weekend sleep-ins can be a little like moving to a different time zone, and the shock of shifting back may be lethal.
Alternatively, as the Sunday spike suggests, the threat could be more psychological, with the foreboding of the week ahead being the biggest danger. It’s hardly news most people don’t like Mondays. Then again, some previous studies have found results that conflict with the latest findings.
Whatever the link, it’s more than a mere curiosity. “Someone is admitted to hospital due to a life-threatening heart attack every five minutes in the UK, so it’s vital that research continues to shed light on how and why heart attacks happen,” said Professor Nilesh Samani of the British Heart Foundation.
“This study adds to evidence around the timing of particularly serious heart attacks, but we now need to unpick what it is about certain days of the week that makes them more likely. Doing so could help doctors better understand this deadly condition so we can save more lives in future.”
The timing of the announcement probably had everything to do with the conference schedule and nothing to do with content. Nevertheless, some of the audience may have wondered if it was the best idea to set the alarm to make the morning session.