Heart attack risk highest on Christmas Eve, study says | News | DW | 13.12.2018
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Heart attack risk highest on Christmas Eve, study says

A study has singled out quite possibly the most dangerous holiday of the year: Christmas Eve. While the researchers couldn't explain why, they did have a hunch.

Swedish scientists have found that people are most at risk of suffering a heart attack on December 24, often observed as Christmas Eve, than any other day during the holiday season, said a study published on Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ.

The team of researchers, led by David Erlinge, professor of cardiology at Sweden's Lund University, examined data from more than 280,000 people who were hospitalized in Sweden due to a heart attack between 1998 and 2013.

According to the study, peak risk occurred around 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve. On that day, the risk of a heart attack was "37 percent higher than during the control period," which accounted for two weeks before and after a holiday.

Risks were also higher on Christmas and New Year's Day, but not New Year's Eve. The study said that it was more likely to manifest "in older and sicker patients, suggesting a role of external triggers in vulnerable individuals."

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'Acute experience'

While the scientists said they did not have enough information to determine the cause for the heart attacks, they did have a hunch.

"Previous meta-analyses have shown that acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and stress increases the risk of myocardial infarction and thus possibly explains the higher risk in our study," the scientists said.

This is not the first time the Swedish scientists have found links between seemingly unrelated external factors and heart attacks. A study published earlier this year found that cold and cloudy weather could increase the risk of having a heart attack.

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