New Research Study Links Chronotypes To Cardiometabolic Health

Mariam Rizkalla, Staff Writer

  Most of us can probably fit into one of two chronotypes; we’re either early risers or night owls. Surprisingly, recent studies have shown that one of these two can actually be a direct cause of one’s weak cardiometabolic health.

  To further investigate the risks posed by this chronotype, a group of scientists along with medical and health professionals from various institutions across the globe collaborated on conducting the most extensive research review to date. What they were most interested in was overall cardiometabolic health, including chrononutrition – the complex relationship between eating patterns and circulation rhythms. This is certainly one of the topics that I am interested in investigating, myself, during my summer internships because it offers an interesting variety of interpretations to the world’s declining cardiovascular health.

  When people analyze the causes of cardiac disease, they tend to list and pay more attention to the obvious factors such as smoking, vaping, alcohol consumption, etc. What they don’t realize is that there are numerous, much less subtle, causes behind those illnesses that they could be exercising daily. I think that research studies like this one are extremely beneficial because they help bring these less-subtle causes to people’s attention.

  Chronotype is certainly something that people wouldn’t think of right away when listing causes of cardiovascular disease. Most of us would probably classify as night owls but very few of us are actually aware of what this chronotype can bring.

  We believe that every medical professional is responsible for spreading these findings and assisting people to live their best lives. However, medical professionals are not the only one in charge of this. We can – and in fact, should – contribute to this cause, so it is now my responsibility to spread these findings as well.

  Current knowledge in the medical field reveals that disturbed sleeping and eating patterns can directly affect and alter cyclical metabolic processes in our bodies such as blood pressure, glucose control, and lipid metabolism. However, what the scientists were investigating were the long-term impacts of such disruptions.

  Suzana Almoosawi, leader of the study and a research fellow at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, analyzed several patterns along with her research colleagues that led to the discovery of a strong correlation between an individual’s bedtime and their dietary choices as well as their risk of developing certain diseases. Those who went to bed later had a disadvantageous lifestyle in comparison to their counterparts because they ate later in the day and consumed more alcohol, sugar, and caffeinated drinks as opposed to vegetables and grains. As a result, they had an increased risk of developing heart disease and metabolic conditions and were 2.5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in comparison to early risers. This statistic was quite shocking and challenging for me to take in because it seemed highly unlikely — turns out that it is actually a lot likier than we would like to think.

  Study co-author, Leonidas G. Karagounis, described the relevance of the study saying, “Further research on the best methods to assess an individual’s chronotype and how this may affect their long-term cardiometabolic health can potentially guide the development of health promotion strategies aimed at preventing and treating chronic diseases based on an individual’s chronotype.”

  I was personally struck by these findings since I’m a late sleeper, myself. I prefer to work late at night as opposed to early in the morning and am able to produce stellar results this way. I have always been aware of the health effects that accompany this chronotype, but I wasn’t fully aware of the biological connections involved. Maybe it’s because I underestimated its risks or because I have always worked well in that environment. However, now with 2019 approaching, I think it’s time for some lifestyle changes.

  As an aspiring cardiothoracic surgeon, I find these studies quite fascinating because they continue to open new doors for advanced treatments. Not only do they permit the growth of the medical field and the advancements of treatments, but they also educate people about the biological connections in their bodies with hopes of preventing cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes. With cardiovascular disease being the number 1 leading cause of death in the United States and many other areas of the world, research studies like these help spread awareness and advocate for healthier lifestyle choices.

  The findings were subsequently published in the journal Advances in Nutrition. If such treatments and medical innovations were to actually be developed in accordance to these research studies, people’s understanding of this correlation will be emphatically improved which will lead to healthier lifestyles as well as increased life-expectancies.