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Body's biological clock found to affect cardiac rhythm patterns in healthy adults

(Boston) -- In a newly reported, first-ever finding, physicists from Boston University and physiologists from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have found that the body's biological clock affects the patterns of heart-rate control in healthy individuals independent of sleep/wake cycle or other behavior influences. Their analysis of the heartbeat dynamics of the healthy individuals in the study showed significant circadian rhythm, including a notable response at the internal circadian phase corresponding to 10 a.m., the time of day most often linked to adverse cardiac events in individuals with heart disease.

The BU/BWH team reports its findings in the Dec. 28 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Sponsored by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the institutional teams were led by Plamen Ivanov, a research associate in BU's Center for Polymer Studies, who undertook the analysis of the data, and Steven Shea, director of BWH's medical chronobiology program and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who conducted the experimental part of the research.

Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 29 percent of the deaths from the nation's 10 leading causes (including homicides and accidents), according to the latest statistics (2001) available from the National Center for Health Statistics.

When designing their study of this deadly disease, the BU/BWH team drew on seemingly disparate findings in epidemiology, cardiology, circadian biology, biomedical engineering, and physics to construct an approach that would assess heartbeat fluctuations in healthy individuals at different circadian phases. In addition, they choose to analyze the data from these individuals using tools from statistical physics that describe relationships between the frequencies of large and small events. With these tools, the researchers hoped to find whether
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Contact: Ann Marie Menting
amenting@bu.edu
617-358-1240
Boston University
20-Dec-2004


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