Increased Heart Attack Risk on the Holidays: Why do Infarcts Occur Especially on Christmas Eve?

Increased Heart Attack Risk on the Holidays: Why do Infarcts Occur Especially on Christmas Eve?

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The holidays are a danger to the health of the heart

The Christmas holidays are supposed to be a contemplative time in which people can relax and unwind. Unfortunately, the opposite is often the case: there is hectic and stress. Researchers have now found that the holidays seem to have a negative impact on heart health. According to the experts, Christmas Eve is the day with the most heart attacks throughout the year.

In their current joint investigation, scientists from Lund University and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that there is an increased risk of heart attacks over the Christmas holiday period. The stress of the holidays seems to have a direct impact on our heart health. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The BMJ".

Christmas Eve increases the risk of heart attacks by almost 40 percent

The Christmas holidays are supposed to be a relaxed and contemplative time, but this is often not the case. There is often a lot of stress and time pressure, especially on Christmas days. Christmas Eve in particular is the worst day of the year for heart attacks, say the doctors. The risk of a heart attack increased nearly 40 percent that day, the experts add. In detail, the examinations have shown that most heart attacks occur at 10:00 p.m. on this day.

Doctors examined 283,014 heart attacks

In the current observational study, the timing of 283,014 heart attacks, which were reported between 1998 and 2013, was analyzed. The data used came from the so-called Swedish coronary care unit registry. Christmas Eve is the main time in Sweden to meet, celebrate, drink and eat with family on the holidays, the researchers say.

When was the risk of a heart attack also increased?

There was another Swedish holiday that was associated with a higher risk of a heart attack, which is midsummer. On this holiday in mid-June, businesses typically close and families come together. When evaluating the data, the scientists also found that many heart attacks occur in the early morning (before 8 a.m.) and that the risk of a heart attack was also increased on Mondays. In contrast, during the Easter holidays and sporting events, the scientists were unable to determine an increased risk of a heart attack.

More research is needed

If people from the study were over the age of 75, had diabetes, or had a history of coronary artery disease, they were at greatest risk of heart attack, the study authors explain. It is not exactly clear, but apparently emotional suffering with acute experience of anger, fear, grief and stress increases the risk of a heart attack, say the doctors. Excessive food intake, alcohol consumption and long-distance travel can also increase the risk of a heart attack. More research is now needed to determine exactly what could cause this increased likelihood of heart attack during the holidays and vacation, the study authors conclude. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Mind Your Heart: Stress Mental Health and Heart Disease (September 2022).


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