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16 Dec, 2018 19:05

Holiday buzzkill: This exact time on Christmas Eve carries highest heart attack risk of entire year

Holiday buzzkill: This exact time on Christmas Eve carries highest heart attack risk of entire year

Most people deck the halls with boughs of holly during the holiday season, but others could find themselves pacing the halls of a hospital. A study found that people are most at risk of a heart attack on Christmas Eve.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, analyzed 238,000 heart attacks in Sweden between 1998 and 2013. An average of 50 heart attacks a day occurred, except on Christmas Eve, when that number spiked to 69 – a 37 percent increase.

But the researchers aren't only warning about the possibility of cardiac arrest on Christmas Eve. They've even pinpointed a time at which people are most at risk – 10pm. Most of the incidents they analyzed occurred around that time.

Although the authors couldn't determine an exact reason as to why Christmas Eve seems to be the day of heart attacks, it's possible that certain emotional factors are brought to the forefront during that time.

“We do not know for sure but emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and stress increases the risk of a heart attack,” study co-author Dr. David Erlinge of Lund University's Department of Cardiology, told The Daily Telegraph. 

While 10pm on Christmas Eve is the most dangerous time for heart attacks, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are also considered prime heart attack territory.

“The peak is very pronounced exactly on Christmas Eve and the following two days, so, I think it is something specific for the way we celebrate these holidays," Erlinge said.

The co-author said that people should be aware of the increased cardiovascular risk associated with emotional distress and excessive food intake which can take place during the holidays.

“We also need to care more about our elderly and sicker friends and relatives,” he concluded.

It is worth noting that in Sweden, the main Christmas celebration is on Christmas Eve, which could suggest that in other countries, the risk would be at 10pm on Christmas Day.

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