Lighting Away Heart Attacks

Heart attacks prevented by strong light

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Researchers are constantly working to come up with new methods for preventing or treating heart attacks. A new candidate, however is surprising. The answer may be intense light.

In the circadian rhythm, regulated by proteins in the brain, the body's clock is associated with light and dark. These proteins also are present in the heart, making strong light a potential treatment.

"Manage blood pressure and cholesterol to lower heart attack risk."

Tobias Eckle, MD, PhD, an associate professor of anesthesiology, cardiology, and cell and developmental biology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said that the study suggests that strong light, or even simply daylight, might lower the risk of having a heart attack or suffering damage from one.

He said that for patients, it might mean that daylight exposure inside the hospital could reduce cardiac muscle damage after a heart attack.

During the study investigators found that a protein called Period 2 plays a critical role in fending off damage from a heart attack.

Little oxygen reaches the heart during a heart attack, forcing the heart to switch its fuel from fat to glucose. When this happens, cells begin to die and the heart is damaged. Researchers found that Period 2 is vital for that fuel change to glucose, and could make heart metabolism more efficient.

In animal studies, they also found that strong daylight minimized damage from a heart attack. Future studies are being planned to understand how intense light changes heart metabolism in humans, and how it could be used to treat heart attacks.

The study was recently published in journal Nature Medicine.

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Review Date: 
April 25, 2012
Last Updated:
May 7, 2012