Intense light, or even just daylight, may lower the risk of having a heart attack or suffering damage from one, according to a new study by researchers at The University of Colorado.
“The study suggests that strong light, or even just daylight, might ease the risk of having a heart attack or suffering damage from one,” says Tobias Eckle, MD, PhD, an associate professor of anesthesiology, cardiology, and cell and developmental biology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “For patients, this could mean that daylight exposure inside of the hospital could reduce the damage that is caused by a heart attack.”
The reason for this is thought by the researchers to be related to the proteins that are regulated by the circadian rhythm (the internal clock that’s regulated by light). A protein called ‘Period 2’ plays a crucial role in stopping damage from a heart attack.
When someone has a heart attack, there is very limited or no oxygen at all reaching the heart. Without oxygen, the heart can’t use its normal fuel source — fat — and has to use glucose. If that change in metabolism doesn’t happen, the heart cells start dying and limiting heart function.
The Period 2 protein is vital for that change. And likely makes heart metabolism more efficient.
In the study, when animals were exposed to daylight, it activated Period 2 and minimized the damage from a heart attack.