Cardiologists have long known that Christmas is the time when you are at most risk for a heart attack.
They even have a name for it. It’s called “holiday heart syndrome.”
A study shows that Christmas may be even more dangerous to heart health than previously believed. The research was conducted by cardiologists in Sweden. It was published in The British Medical Journal.
It’s clear that stressful occurrences such as hurricanes, stock market crashes, and important sports events can bring heart attacks. But the researchers wanted to see what specific times during the year are linked to heart problems.
Sweden has a coronary care unit registry. It tracks the heart health of its citizens. The researchers gathered data from 1998 to 2013. During that time, there were 283,014 heart attacks in Sweden.
Christmas day was found to be linked with a 15% higher risk of heart attack. But by far the day with the highest risk was Christmas Eve. It tops out at 37%.
More specifically, the highest heart attack risk of the year comes at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Dr. David Erlinge was the study author. His study drew no conclusions about the cause of the holiday heart attacks. But he points out that Christmastime is accompanied by stress, travel, difficulties with relatives, and excessive eating and drinking.
5 Ways to Avoid a Holiday Heart Attack
Here are four simple ways to the reduce your chances of becoming a Christmas cardiac statistic:
- Don’t get drunk. Excessive alcohol consumption is closely linked with “holiday heart syndrome.” High blood alcohol levels can lead to atrial fibrillation (a rapid abnormal heart rhythm), which can lead to a stroke or heart failure.
- Get enough sleep. Holiday celebrations may tempt you to stay out late and party. But research published in the European Heart Journal found that people who are sleep deprived have a 48% higher chance of developing or dying from heart disease.
- Don’t gorge on carbs. During the holidays, we’re often faced with temptation in the form of sweets and pastries. Sugar-rich foods are poison for your heart. When indulge, keep it to a minimum.
- Avoid stress. The holidays tend to be stressful, and stress is linked with heart disease. Minimize stress by exercising, limiting caffeine, and relaxation techniques, such as meditation.
- Don’t forget your meds. During the holidays, when we are out of our normal routine, it’s easy to forget to take heart and other medications. Make it a point to remember to take important medicines
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