Effects of circadian disruption on the cardiometabolic system
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The presence of day–night variations in cardiovascular and metabolic functioning is well known. However, only recently it has been shown that cardiovascular and metabolic processes are not only affected by the behavioral sleep/wake cycle but are partly under direct control of the master circadian pacemaker located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Heart rate, cardiac autonomic activity, glucose metabolism and leptin—involved in appetite control—all show circadian variation (i.e., under constant behavioral and environmental conditions). This knowledge of behavioral vs. circadian modulation of cardiometabolic function is of clinical relevance given the morning peak in adverse cardiovascular incidents observed in epidemiological studies and given the increased risk for the development of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease in shift workers. We will review the evidence for circadian control of cardiometabolic functioning, as well its sensitivity to light and melatonin, and discuss potential implication for therapy.