It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but when it comes to heart health, it can also be the most dangerous. The frequency of heart attacks spikes during the period from Christmas to New Year’s Day, quickly transforming the joy of the season into tragedy.
While no one thinks a heart attack will happen to them, especially during the holidays, there is a myriad of factors that contribute to this increased risk and frequency. So, what is it about the holidays that lead to a nearly 5% higher occurrence of cardiac death? Read on to find out.
As happy as the holidays can be, they are also stressful. From the hustle and bustle to the emotional toll of family to navigating the season after the loss of a loved one, the potential stresses are many and profound.
There is a direct link between stress and heart problems. From anxiety to depression and beyond, the increased distress experienced is certainly a factor in holiday heart attacks.
One of the most exciting holiday traditions is the food and beverages that have become synonymous with the season. Unfortunately, the food is often high in sodium—which can increase blood pressure—and people tend to eat a lot of it. Overeating can create new health problems or worsen preexisting ones.
Alcohol consumption also tends to increase during this time of year, which is not good for heart health, either.
It would not be the holidays without at least one family member getting sick and inevitably spreading it to others. From the common cold to the flu, these respiratory illnesses can create more stress on the heart, leading to cardiovascular illnesses. Now, with COVID in the mix, even more people are likely to suffer from the cardiovascular effects of respiratory disease.
How can forgetfulness during the holidays lead to an increase in heart attacks? It is quite simple—people get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the moment that they neglect important things like taking or filling their medication, making time for exercise, and more.
When these vital health habits are broken, especially more often than the occasional lapse, the consequences can be severe.
Do not let a season that is supposed to be full of cheer devolve into a time of tragedy. Be sure to make yourself and others aware of the holiday heart attack risk factors and actively work to combat them. Doing so can keep your heart healthy and the focus where it should be—on spending quality time with your friends, family, and loved ones.
If you do experience chest pain during the holidays, do not hesitate to contact emergency services. Addressing cardiac issues promptly can be the difference between a positive and negative outcome, so act quickly.