December 26 could be one of the most dangerous days of the year for people vulnerable to cardiac problems, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, and heart failure. And many of these so-called Merry Christmas coronaries will hit people who didn’t even realize they were at risk when they unwrapped their gifts the night before.
But the holiday season isn’t good for heart health to begin with. A 2004 study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Tufts University found that heart-related deaths increase by nearly 5 percent during the holidays, perhaps because patients delay seeking treatment for heart problems or because hospital staffing patterns change. But anecdotally, doctors say that their ERs stay quiet on Christmas Day itself. Then, come December 26, they see a surge of cardiac traffic.
“This time of year is notorious for heart attacks, heart failures, and arrhythmias,” says Samin Sharma, MD, director of interventional cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
In fact, 2008 may pose an even greater risk than years past. Added stress over the recession means you’re already putting a lot of pressure on your heart, and that’s before the holiday eating and drinking even begin. Here’s how to steer clear of the hospital.
To read about holiday heart-healthy tips, click here.