Two of the most dangerous and life-threatening medical emergencies are heart attacks and strokes. Although these incidents can happen at any time, they tend to happen more frequently in the early morning, specifically between 3 and 10 AM.

Know The Facts About Heart Attacks And Strokes In The Early Mornings

Understanding the facts regarding heart attacks and strokes that occur in the wee hours of the morning can help you identify the signs and get medical care quickly, which can save lives and lessen long-term harm.

What are heart attacks and strokes?

A heart attack happens when one or more of the blood arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle are clogged, frequently due to plaque accumulation. A section of the heart muscle that cannot receive oxygen due to this obstruction suffers damage or ultimately dies. [1]

In contrast, a stroke is a medical emergency brought on by a blockage or rupture in the blood vessels that provide oxygen and nourishment to the brain. Depending on whatever area of the brain is damaged, brain cells that are starved of oxygen begin to die and the affected person may exhibit a variety of symptoms. [2]

Why do heart attacks and strokes happen more often in the morning?

Heart attacks and strokes are more common in the early morning hours for several reasons.

1. Hormonal changes: Your body releases more cortisol and other stress chemicals when you wake up in the morning, which can raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Furthermore, mornings have higher concentrations of a protein known as PA1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1). PA1 raises the possibility of blood vessel blockages by preventing blood clots from dissolving. [3]

2. Dehydration: Your body loses fluids over the night, which causes dehydration. The blood may thicken as a result of dehydration, which increases the risk of clotting heart attacks and strokes.

3. Sleep disruptions and sleep apnea: Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which results in frequent breathing interruptions during sleep, might raise the risk of strokes and heart attacks. The early danger may be exacerbated by the physical strain that sleep disturbances and low oxygen levels cause to the body. [4]

Symptoms of heart attacks and strokes

It is essential to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes to seek emergency medical assistance. The following are some typical signs to be aware of:

Heart attack symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach

Stroke symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination

Increased risk of damage from morning heart attacks and strokes

Studies have indicated that morning heart attacks may inflict greater damage to the heart muscle than heart attacks that happen later in the day, in addition to the fact that heart attacks and strokes are more common in the morning.

Delay in seeking medical attention may be the cause of this increased damage since individuals could not notice the symptoms or go right away after waking up. Likewise, strokes that happen early in the morning can also be more serious since they take longer to diagnose and treat.

Prevention and early action

While heart attacks and strokes can happen to anyone, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and improve your chances of survival if one does occur.

Lifestyle changes:

  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques or counseling.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Manage existing conditions:

  • If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea, follow your treatment plan and take prescribed medications as directed.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to keep these conditions under control.

Seek immediate medical help:

  • If you experience any of the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, don’t wait. Call emergency services or have someone drive you to the nearest hospital immediately
  • Early treatment can dissolve clots, restore blood flow, and minimize damage to the heart or brain


Although they can occur at any time, heart attacks and strokes are more likely in the early morning hours of the day. Long-term results and survival can be greatly impacted by realizing the causes of this elevated risk, identifying the signs, and acting quickly.

You may lower your risk and be more equipped to handle these possible emergencies by changing your lifestyle, taking care of any conditions you already have, and getting help right away when you need it.

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4 Sources

We review published medical research in respected scientific journals to arrive at our conclusions about a product or health topic. This ensures the highest standard of scientific accuracy.

[1] Heart attack issue. BMJ. 1998 Apr 4;316(7137):0. PMCID: PMC1112888.
[2] Murphy SJ, Werring DJ. Stroke: causes and clinical features. Medicine (Abingdon). 2020 Sep;48(9):561-566. doi: 10.1016/j.mpmed.2020.06.002. Epub 2020 Aug 6. PMID: 32837228; PMCID: PMC7409792.
[3] Okada Y, Galbreath MM, Shibata S, Jarvis SS, Bivens TB, Vongpatanasin W, Levine BD, Fu Q. Morning blood pressure surge is associated with arterial stiffness and sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity in hypertensive seniors. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 Sep 15;305(6):H793-802. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00254.2013. Epub 2013 Jul 5. PMID: 23832695; PMCID: PMC3761347.
[4] McDermott M, Brown DL, Chervin RD. Sleep disorders and the risk of stroke. Expert Rev Neurother. 2018 Jul;18(7):523-531. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2018.1489239. Epub 2018 Jun 25. PMID: 29902391; PMCID: PMC6300163.
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Harlan Stueven,MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board-Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and in Medical Toxicol