This is the fundamental problem when someone suffers a heart attack. A blockage suddenly deprives the heart tissue of oxygen – no oxygen causes among other things, serious energy shortages.
Oxygen is necessary to burn fuel, any fuel. But the body has two fuel supplies – the low octane version (glucose) and the high octane version (fat). The heart can use both, but prefers sugar because it is a lot easier to use and requires less oxygen to burn.
Saving a heart under attack
Saving a heart, in the midst of a heart attack, is all about restoring that supply of oxygen, so the heart cells can burn enough energy, to keep going.
Treating a heart attack involves a two prong approach
- First doctors kick starting the muscle using resuscitation techniques, and then
- They focus on clearing the pipes, to get the oxygen flowing, by using clot busting drugs.
But fueling the heart muscle’s power factories is also important.
Fuel shortages lead to melt downs
Heart attack victims tend to be insulin resistant, which means heart muscle cells are already facing difficulties getting fuel.
The double whammy of very little oxygen and no food is clearly catastrophic.
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine have shined the spot light on feeding tired heart muscles.
Lighting up the heart
The team discovered, a dose of strong light, is all that it takes to get the glucose flowing into the starving muscles. Animal heart attack victims (man-made heart attacks) ,had less damage to their heart’s and better survival stats, when they received a little light therapy.
Regular readers will know, I am a big fan of soaking up the sun, because of it’s ability to switch on vitamin D synthesis. Too little vitamin D upsets body chemistry big time.
But the benefits of shining a little light on the heart – don’t seem to be coming from vitamin D directly. The team discovered it has to do with a protein called Period 2.
Circadian rhythm sets the feeding schedule
The body can and does tell time – it uses the sun as its reference point, not your alarm clock. The body’s Greenwich Mean Time is set in the brain, but individual organs, keep time with their own clock, sometimes not as efficiently as they should.
Period 2 is one of the protein’s involved in controlling the timing of things in the heart. Period 2’s release is stimulated by light, so it controls what happens during the day. One of the things period 2 influences is which fuel source is used by the heart.
As a rule, we tend to use glucose during the day and burn fat at night – this is why getting enough sleep is so important if you’re trying to lose weight that is fat, not muscle. Period 2 is the control switch for daytime sugar burning – it is mobilizing the day shift.
Put your heart under the spot light
Most heart attacks happen in the middle of the night, this would correspond with the time when Period 2 levels are at their lowest, lending support for the idea that your heart may also appreciate a little soak in the sun.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind better heart health ?
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