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article imageTis the season for 'holiday heart syndrome' and heart attacks

By Layne Weiss     Dec 23, 2013 in Health
Christmas is almost here! Excited? Well, I hate to shatter your spirits. I feel almost mean reporting this, but according to studies, heart troubles surge this time of year.
Medical Daily reports that research has found that more people die on December 25 than on any other day of the year.
In 2004, a study called “The Merry Christmas Coronary and the Happy New Year Heart Attack Phenomenon" was published in the Journal Circulation.
The authors of the study reviewed all official United States' death certificates from 1979 to 2004 and found a spike on heart-related deaths on Christmas and New Year's, Ideastream reports.
The research looked at all possible reasons for this phenomenon such as emotional stress and alcohol consumption. The study's lead author David Phillips said he wasn't entirely convinced that emotional stress was a factor. He studied the data further for the next six years. He concluded that emotional stress couldn't be the main reason and that holiday heart-related deaths are caused by a combination of things. He found that cardiac related deaths increase by 5% on Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
Medical Daily notes that "understaffed hospitals" may also be a factor while The AP lists cold weather and overindulgence.
David Phillips also says that understaffed hospitals are a factor. According to The AP reports. He estimates that there are 2,000 extra deaths every year which are mostly associated with heart-related issues. Around the holidays. fewer doctors and nurses are working and the most senior hospital employees are on vacation.
The increase in heart troubles includes heart attacks, both fatal and non-fatal, as well as a less serious condition called "holiday heart syndrome" which is an irregular heartbeat caused by consuming too much alcohol.
American Heart Association spokesman Richard Stein, a cardiologist at NYU's medical center, says there could be a link between heart problems and the flu. Flu season coincides with the winter holidays. There may be a correlation since the flu can cause inflammation which can also stress the heart.
Dr. Stein gives the usual preventative advice we all hear; get a flu shot, avoid overeating and drinking, and exercise.
Sociology professor David Phillips advises going to the ER when you're suffering from life threatening symptoms such as chest pains, unexplained falls, numbness or tingling. For less serious symptoms or elective surgeries, he suggests holding off as long as you can since the hospitals are crazy this time of year.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Stay safe!!
More about holiday heart syndrome, Heart attacks, holiday stress, alcohol consumption, Christmas
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