A new study shows the chances of a heart attack are the highest at a certain time on Christmas Eve. We all know the holidays are stressful yet there is now quantifiable proof to show Christmas Eve is especially demanding on the heart.
Thankfully, more and more people are living high-quality lives after heart attacks. Recent research shows the number of people who survive after a heart attack is much higher today than it was merely a decade ago. This improvement is attributed to advancements in heart procedures, pacemakers and other medical equipment.
Christmas Eve’s Heart Attack Risk
Christmas Eve should be a peaceful time spent with family, enjoying Christmas cookies and keeping warm by the living room fire. Unfortunately, Christmas Eve poses the highest risk for heart attacks. This is the conclusion reached following extensive research recently detailed in the British Medical Journal. The study found an individual’s risk for a heart attack jumped during the holidays.
In particular, the risk for a heart attack is at its highest point at 10 PM on Christmas Eve. David Erlinge, a cardiologist at Lund University, states the pronounced risk for a heart attack extends several days after Christmas Eve. This peak typically extends two days out.
About the Study
All in all, nearly 300,000 heart attacks were analyzed for the study. The sheer size of the data analyzed gives it credibility as it is a legitimate study as opposed to a sample. Every single heart attack suffered in Britain is included in the study.
A couple patterns about the likeliness of heart attacks at specific points in time were identified. The researchers found a somewhat higher risk for heart attacks prior to 8 in the morning. There is also a general trend for heart attacks to occur on Mondays. The chance of a heart attack is also higher on New Year’s Day. It is interesting to note the chances of a heart attack even increased during the holidays in the middle of the summer.
It is also intriguing to note the researchers behind the study highlighted prior studies showing a heightened risk for a heart attack when major sporting events occur. In some regions, heart attacks spiked amidst Islamic holidays.
Why Christmas Eve Puts the Heart in Jeopardy
Though the chances of a heart attack are clearly higher during specific times of the year, the study detailed above determined the highest risk is a couple hours prior to midnight on Christmas Eve. The chances of having a heart attack soar nearly 40 percent at this time.
The risk for a heart attack is heightened for those who have a history of heart problems and/or diabetes. The question is why heart attacks are that much more likely to occur on Christmas Eve.
The general consensus in the scientific community is people typically experience elevated emotional stress during Christmas Eve as well as other holidays. This emotional stress impacts the heart’s health. However, it must be noted there is no clear-cut reason why heart attacks spike during the holidays. Scientists are merely speculating emotional stress triggers heart attacks. The combination of emotional distress along with sadness, anger, stress and grief boosts the risk for a heart attack.
Furthermore, people consume alcohol, food and other substances in large amounts during the holidays, taxing the body that much more. Some point to the fact that plenty of people travel long distances during the holidays as a contributor to the elevated heart attack rate. These long trips take a toll on the mind, heart and body as a whole, especially for elderly drivers.
How to Reduce Your Chances of a Holiday Heart Attack
If possible, take the train, bus or a plane to your holiday destination to minimize your stress. Let a professional driver or pilot handle the navigation so you can take it easy until it is time to celebrate with family and friends.
One of the more important things you can do during the holidays is remain aware of the heightened risk to your heart and your health. Recognize the fact that you will be facing a number of stressors during the holidays. From bad weather to family responsibilities, buying gifts and so on, there is a lot on your mind. Do everything you can to prevent unnecessary stress. Do not eat or drink in excess.
If anyone in your family has heart issues, pitch in during the holidays by helping with chores, making dinner, shopping and handling other projects that induce stress.