Heart attack risk spikes on Christmas Eve at this specific time, study says

From good food to thoughtful gifts, Christmas Eve is often a time to spend with family. But beware; it's also the time of year there's the greatest risk of a heart attack, according to a new report.

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Researchers from health institutions in Sweden recently conducted a study, published in the British Medical Journal, to explore national holidays and sporting events as triggers of a heart attack.

To do so, they examined nearly 300,000 heart attack patients in Sweden over a 15-year period. The data they reviewed included the date and time when the symptoms started.

After analyzing the results, they found Christmastime was peak time for heart attacks in Sweden. In fact, they said the risk of cardiac arrest was 15 percent higher on Christmas Day and 37 percent higher on Christmas Eve, compared with the two weeks before and after the holiday.

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Furthermore, they said you’re more likely to have a heart attack around 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The scientists also found a 20 percent increased risk on New Year’s Day and a 12 percent spike on Midsummer, a mid-June Swedish holiday.

There was no apparent link between heart attacks and New Year’s Eve, Easter and sporting events.

The authors suspect some holidays can bring on stress. Traveling, dealing with difficult relatives and preparing meals and activities can be challenging.

But despite their findings, they noted association does not equal causation.

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“Understanding what factors, activities, and emotions precede these myocardial infarctions and how they differ from myocardial infractions experienced on other days,” the team wrote, “could help develop a strategy to manage and reduce the number of these events.”

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