Holiday Heart Attack

What will you be doing on Christmas Eve at 10:00 PM?

That may seem like an incredibly odd and specific question, we know.  

However, it seems that 10:00 PM on Christmas Eve is the hour at which the Yuletide celebrating world-at-large is more likely to have a heart attack.

Why so oddly specific?

There’s a new study out of Sweden that can answer that.

Researchers found the odds of a heart attack jump significantly on Christmas Eve, noting that in the 15-year study of more than 283,000 heart attack patients, suggested the risk was highest at 10 PM. The study’s senior author and head of the office of cardiology at Skane University Hospital in Lund, Dr. David Erlinge, states “Traditional holidays were associated with increased risk of heart attack. The risk overall during Christmas/New Year’s was 15% higher than a regular December day.”

It’s important to note that the study did not prove that the holiday actually caused heart attack risk to rise, only that there seemed to be an association.

But why?

When asked why and what triggers the spike in heart attacks, Dr. Erlinge said, “We do not know for sure, but many mechanisms may be involved.”

Those ‘mechanisms’ or factors are exactly what you may think.

  • Emotional distress, anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress
  • Excessive food and alcohol consumption
  • Long distance travel
  • Lack of restorative rest and exercise
  • Drastic change in regular routine or schedule

All of these factors can be easily managed with a little determination.  

Be diligent. Be delighted. Be disciplined.

And a word to the wise from Dr. Peter Mercurio, a cardiologist at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York, “Taking politics off the list for the holidays”, both national and familial, will make for a more peaceful — and less heart attack inducing — Christmas season.

https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4811

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