Researchers connect stroke symptoms to Daylight Saving Time

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - During the first two days after everyone springs forward one hour for daylight saving time, research shows the rate for a common type of stroke is eight percent higher.

Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute co-director and chair of neurology at McGovern Medical School, Dr. Louise McCullough, says the time change may seem slight, but it's enough to throw off your whole body's rhythm.

“It turns out there could be some pretty strong, maybe pro-inflammatory factors that occur even with a small shift,”McCullough said.

Recognizing the signs of a stroke has to happen F.A.S.T., or face, arm, speech and time.

“Face, drooping of the face. Arm, weakness of an arm. Speech, slurred speech or even getting speech out or the speech doesn’t make sense,” McCullough explained the acronym. “What does time mean? The brain doesn't like not having blood and oxygen. The sooner you can restore blood flow to the area of the brain that's not getting enough blood, the better the brain does.”

She said with every one minute faster a patient makes it to the hospital, it adds another one to two days of living a healthy life.

What can people do to prevent it?

McCullough said taking a nap or going to bed half an hour sooner this Sunday could help reset a person's circadian rhythm. That's important for people 65 and older or cancer patients, two groups who are most at risk for stroke.

More information about this research can be found online at MemorialHermann.org.

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