Researchers aren’t sure why this is the case, but studies done worldwide show a spike in deaths from heart-related issues over the holiday season.
Unlike flu-related deaths, these don’t seem to be connected to the cold weather. One example of this is seen in Australia, where it’s summer down under at Christmas time, yet the spike in deaths was still evident in Australia and across the northern hemisphere.
What appears to be the cause are the combination of the emotional stress of the holidays and unhealthy changes in diet, including too much alcohol.
For example, many people dismiss the early warning signs of a heart attack during the holidays since they’re swamped with social obligations at home or while on vacation, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
To protect your health and heart over the holidays, your approach should be twofold: Find ways to control and manage stress, and don’t ignore heart attack symptoms, even if it’s in the middle of opening presents or Christmas dinner. Warning signs like chest pain or pressure should be looked into or monitored, and not passed off as heartburn. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, or breaking out in a cold sweat are also symptoms to be concerned about.
Note that women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, but may have other symptoms present, like shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
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