Risk of heart attack peaks on Christmas Eve, study shows

Researchers find a 37% higher risk of heart attacks on the holiday

The risk of heart attack peaks at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, especially for older and sicker people, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers found a 37% higher risk of heart attacks on the holiday, as well as increased risk on News Year’s Day and Christmas Day.

The holidays usually bring heightened stress levels amidst all of the shopping, cooking and entertaining of guests. These activities can raise blood pressure and set off a “fight or flight” response in the body that’s hard on the heart. It may be tempting to indulge over the holidays, but consuming large amounts of food high in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars can put your heart at risk. Also, the few extra pounds gained over the holiday year after year could have a lasting effect. Obesity is a known risk factor for heart attacks.

The holidays get busy, and people often forget to take care of themselves by getting refills in a timely manner or forgetting their medicines when staying with family.

Signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain
  • Discomfort in other parts of the body like arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Cold sweat
  • Lightheadedness

It’s very important to not ignore these symptoms when they happen. Many people try to brush health problems off around the holiday to spend more time with their families. But the sooner you seek medical attention, the better your outcome will be. Call 911 right away. Remember, every minute matters. If you experience any heart attack warning signs, don’t ignore them. Calling 911 is the fastest way to treatment. An emergency medical services team can begin treatment up to an hour sooner than driving to a hospital by car. If you do drive, have a neighbor, family member or friend take you. Drive yourself only as a last resort.

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