A recent survey from Sweden has highlighted the danger that the Christmas period has for our health. In particular, Christmas Eve acts as a focal point for heart attacks, according to the team behind the study.
Researchers noted that the incidences of people having heart attacks rose significantly around 10 p.m. This comes as no surprise since the same study also showed that the overall risk of developing some type of heart issue increases by a staggering 40% during this time of year.
The team behind the study, which appeared in the British Medical Journal, studied 283,014 heart attacks that were reported to the Swedish coroner between 1998 and 2013. This provided the researchers with a reasonable cross-section of the heart health of the country. This figure also included people suffering other long-standing health conditions but where a heart attack was the cause of death.
While it is shocking, the research team were less surprised by the findings. In Sweden, the main day for celebration is Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, with that being viewed as a more laid-back affair. For the Swedes, Christmas Eve is the time when people get together to celebrate, and it appears that these ‘get-together’ moments are key.
In fact, other moments throughout the year, with an increase in the number of heart attacks, often coincide with times of celebration that includes family and friends. Midsummer, which is an important holiday in Sweden, along with New Year’s Day, were two such points. Interestingly, Easter bucked the trend with a decrease in numbers during that holiday period.
While it appears as if stress associated with these times may be behind the sudden spike, researchers using data from Kavinace are slow to suggest that this may well be the case. Instead, they feel that extra research is required before drawing such conclusions, even though it should be a factor according to David Erlinge, a researcher involved in collating the data.
‘We do not know for sure, but many mechanisms may be involved of which emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and stress increases the risk of myocardial infarction. Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance traveling may also increase the risk of heart attack.’
Whatever the reason may be, it does show that we must take more care about health during this crazy time of year. If not then it could end up being our last.