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Smartphones May Be Changing When People Are Having Heart Attacks, Study Says

Monday mornings are the most common time that individuals experience sudden cardiac arrest. But our smartphones may be changing when we experience heart problems, according to new research published in the journal Heart Rhythm.

The study’s co-authors analyzed 2,631 cases of sudden cardiac arrest from the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study to better understand when a sudden cardiac arrest is most likely. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an unexpected electrical malfunction of the heart and differs from a heart attack, which occurs when blow flood to the heart is blocked.

Historically, sudden cardiac arrests have been said to be most likely in the early morning. But in this latest study, early morning SCAs only accounted for 13.9% reported, while 27.6% happened in the morning and 26.9% in the evening.

One reason the once-peak times for SCAs could have shifted? Our phones, and our constant use of them. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Sumeet Chugh, Price Professor and associate director of the Heart Institute and director of the Heart Rhythm Center at Cedars-Sinai, told CNN that it could be due to shifting work habits. “A lot of people are working all the time, or they’re tied to, or tethered to, a smartphone, almost every instant of the day, sometimes at night,” he explained. “Our hypothesis is that in the last decade or two decades, we’ve really changed the way that we behave as human beings. We’ve changed the way that we work. We are constantly wired.”

Studies of this nature impact public health because emergency medical services, including first responders and hospital emergency rooms, often base staffing and availability on this kind of research data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 70-90% of individuals who experience cardiac arrest die before reaching a hospital.