Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Scariest Day of the Week Is...

...Monday. Why? Our blood pressure soars on Mondays. The stress of returning to work on Monday morning can trigger a dangerous increase in blood pressure, the BBC News reports of a new study from Tokyo Women's Medical University.

This may explain why there are more deaths from heart attacks and strokes on Monday morning than any other time of the week.

"If somebody already has cardiovascular disease, then it might just tip them over the edge and trigger a heart attack," Keith Fox of the cardiovascular research unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary told the BBC. There are 20 percent more heart attacks on Mondays than on any other day. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and the higher it climbs, the greater the force exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries every time the heart beats.

The study: Blood pressure can vary widely from one day to the next, so to measure how it changed throughout the week the Tokyo team fitted 175 men and women with a device that would measure their blood pressure 24/7. The special blood pressure devices were used for one week.

The results: Among those who went to work on Monday morning, there was a surge of blood pressure as they got ready for work. Those who could sleep in and not work on Monday did not experience the same increase, which suggests work-related stress is to blame for the increased blood pressure. "Most people are free of the mental and physical burdens of work on a Sunday and experience a more stressful change from weekend leisure activities to work activities on Mondays," Dr. Shuogo Murakami, who led the research, told the BBC. "There was a distinct peak on Mondays in this study."

Here's the good news: An early morning peak in blood pressure is probably a normal part of the body's 24-hour rhythm and is not likely to be a problem for healthy people. The Monday morning blood pressure surge could be caused by a weekend of late nights followed by mornings spent sleeping in. The study results were published in the American Journal of Hypertension.