The holiday season is meant to be filled with joy, celebration and quality time with loved ones. However, it can also bring an increased risk of heart attacks and cardiac events. Multiple studies have shown that heart attacks occur more frequently around Christmas and New Year’s. Understanding why this happens and how to avoid it can help keep your holidays happy and healthy.
Why Heart Attacks Increase Over The Holidays
Several factors contribute to the rise in heart attacks and cardiac events during the winter holidays:
Stress – The holidays often bring emotional and social stressors like finances, family issues, loneliness, grief over lost loved ones, traveling and more. This stress causes inflammation and constricts blood vessels which can trigger a heart attack.
Overindulgence – Heavy holiday meals and increased alcohol consumption adds strain to the heart. The good news? Studies show drinking in moderation (1 drink a day for women, 2 for men) may actually have heart-protective benefits.
Lack of Exercise – Between hearty meals, parties and cold weather, many people exercise less over the holidays. This impacts heart health and increases risk factors.
Delayed Medical Care – People often delay seeking care over holidays due to closed offices/hospitals, travel, insurance deductibles resetting in the new year and more. This causes people to endure symptoms longer before getting treated.
|% Increase in Heart Attacks
|New Year’s Eve
|New Year’s Day
As shown in the table above, Christmas Eve sees the largest surge but risk remains elevated across the holiday stretch. Preparation and awareness during this vulnerable period can save lives.
Tips To Protect Your Heart Over The Holidays
While heart attacks increase over the holidays, there are many ways to reduce your risk and enjoy a healthy season:
- Set realistic expectations for holidays
- Make time for yourself amidst hustle and bustle
- Try stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing
- Avoid overeating and heavy meals
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Stay hydrated with water and unsweetened drinks
- Maintain exercise routine as much as possible
- Go for walks after big meals
- Shovel snow carefully and slowly
Listen To Your Body
- Recognize and respond quickly to heart attack symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating. Call emergency services immediately.
- Don’t delay seeking medical care – closed offices shouldn’t deter you from getting treated right away if concerned
- Check in with doctor before holidays if managing health condition
- Stick to medications and treatment plans
- Get flu shot and COVID vaccine/boosters
- Reach out if lonely or grieving lost loved ones
The holidays can still be a wonderful time full of meaning, connectivity and cheer. Just be smart, savor them in moderation, avoid unnecessary risks and listen to your body. If we all look out for ourselves and each other, we can create happy and healthy holiday memories for years to come.
Outlook For The Future
Understanding why heart attacks increase over the winter holidays empowers people to make healthier choices. As awareness grows, positive strides can be taken to curb this seasonal spike in cardiac events.
In the future, we may see:
- More people being conscious of heart risks during holidays and taking preventative measures
- Employers encouraging self-care, offering wellness tips and flexible time off
- Schools providing heart health education alongside holiday celebrations
- Hospital, clinics and emergency services increasing staff/resources preemptively
- Family doctors scheduling well visits before holidays to address risk factors
- Cardiologists and health experts continuing to share prevention tips with public
- Scientists researching treatments targeting holiday-induced inflammation
- Growth of support groups for grief, stress and isolation during difficult season
- Companies reconsidering holiday travel requirements and deadlines
- Communities organizing exercise events, meditation circles, healthy meal tips
While the holidays can be a vulnerable time for cardiac events, the future is bright. Collective awareness and proactive steps can help make these seasons happier and safer for all.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.