The holiday season is a time to spend with family and friends. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when heart problems increase. According to a new study from Sweden, the risk of suffering a heart attack increases almost 40% on Christmas Eve.
While the study did not prove that the holiday season was a direct cause of the increased risk of heart problems, there did seem to be a strong correlation. Between 1889 and 2013, researchers look at 283,014 heart attacks that were reported to the Swedish coronary care unit registry. After analyzing the data, the research showed that not only was there a 40% increased risk on Christmas Eve, but the most heart attacks occurred around 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, the heart attack rate increases 29% higher than normal and even remains high on the day after Christmas, which is also known as Boxing Day.
Fortunately, today’s medicine offers better care for heart concerns, like cardiac catheterization, which is valuable in diagnosing and treating heart disease. But even for those without previous heart concerns showed an increase in heart attacks around the holidays.
According to study senior author Dr. David Erlinge, head of the office of cardiology at Skane University Hospital in Lund, “Traditional holidays were associated with an increased risk of heart attack. The risk overall during Christmas/New Year’s was 15% higher than a regular December day.”
Unfortunately, looking at the data, there is no known cause of the increased risk of heart problems. While there was no drastic increase around other holidays like New Year’s Eve or Easter, there was an increased risk on Midsummer, which is a June holiday celebrated in Sweden.
There could be a few possible causes of the increased risk of heart problems around the holidays — the financial stress, drinking and eating too much, or being stressed from being surrounded by too many people could all contribute to the heightened stress bodied often feel this time of the year.
So, what should you do to keep your heart healthy this holiday season? Make sure you see a doctor regularly to ensure your heart is in good shape. If you notice any symptoms of heart conditions, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. And while the holiday treats are often too good to resist, 75% of people are chronically dehydrated, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. And do your best to remain calm and as stress-free as possible.
While this time of the year has a heavy focus on showing your love and appreciation for others, make sure to take care of yourself, too.