If you're planning to have heart surgery, make sure it's during a full moon. A recent study published in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, found that patients who have heart surgery during a full moon, specifically acute aortic dissection (AAD), could reduce their hospital stay and boost their survival rate when compared to patients who had their surgery during other lunar phases.

More than half a million cardiac surgeries are performed each year in the United States due to a variation of heart complications, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) said. The life threatening condition, acute aortic dissection, affects approximately 10,000 Americans a year, and is two to three times more common than a tear of the abdominal aorta. A patient with AAD has a 75 percent mortality rate if left untreated within the first two weeks of diagnosis. Researchers say the results could help them provide better care for victims of the condition.

A compilation of data was collected by the researchers, who examined 210 heart surgery patients to determine if environmental factors, such as the seasons or the moon's cycle had an effect on the death rates of these patients. While the results of the study indicated that there was no correlation found between the seasons summer and winter, and the death rate in AAD patients, surgery during a full moon significantly reduced the odds of dying, as well as the length of stay after surgery. Those with AAD who had surgery during a full moon averaged a total of 10 days in the hospital, compared to 14 days for those who underwent surgery during other lunar phases.

"Can we always plan for such procedures to be performed around lunar cycles? Of course not," said Dr. Frank Sellke, author of the study and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the Cardiovascular Institute in Rhode Island Hospital. Environmental effects on cardiovascular surgeries, which have not been studied until now, can provide a better understanding of how the rhythms of seasons and lunar cycles affect a person's overall health.

Although the lunar cycle is linked to an increased survival rate in people undergoing surery for AAD, it has not been linked to survival rates of breast cancer. In a study published in the journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, researchers studied the effects of breast cancer surgery during a full moon and its influences on the survival of patients. They evaluated the overall survival of 3,757 patients with breast cancer who underwent various types of surgery under the lunar phase. The results of the study showed that there were no significant differences in the overall survival of breast cancer patients who had surgery during a full moon.

Superstition surrounding the lunar phases can be seen in everything from romance to planting crops. Further research still needs to be done to examine the effect of lunar phases and the outcomes of various types of surgeries.

Source: J. H. Shuhaiber, J. L. Fava, T. Shin, Et. Al. The influence of seasons and lunar cycle on hospital outcomes following ascending aortic dissection repair. Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery, 2013.

Peters-Engl C, Frank W, Kerschbaum F, Et. Al. Lunar phases and survival of breast cancer patients--a statistical analysis of 3,757 cases. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2011.