The heart’s got rhythm, thanks to molecular timekeepers.
Researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City have discovered a new role for a well-known metabolic protein — as a conductor setting the pace of the heart’s daily cadence and the rise and fall of blood pressure. The finding, reported in the Dec. 3 Cell Metabolism, links the heart’s daily clock with other metabolic functions of the body, helping to explain why sleep disturbances may lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.
Heart rate and blood pressure rise and fall over the course of the day in a regular pattern, one of the body’s best-known circadian rhythms. Blood pressure falls at night, rises sharply just before a person wakes up and then peaks about midmorning. The steep rise in blood pressure may be the reason people are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes in the morning than at other times of day.
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