The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and relaxation and catching up with friends and family. But sometimes it turns out to be anything but that, and it can actually be hazardous to your health.
A popular song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it can be one of the most dangerous when it comes to having a heart attack. A European study shows the risk of suffering a heart attack jumps nearly 40% at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
“I think there is some dietary indiscretion that happens with more bad habits coming back to the front, certainly alcohol use comes into play but sometimes just being around people you just don’t want to be around and forced interaction can be enough stress to tip off the edge if you will,” says Dr. Ryan Longnecker, M.D., Freeman Cardiologist.
Longnecker says people with a pre-existing cardiac condition are more likely to have a heart attack than those who don’t on that date, at that time. That same study shows an elevated risk on New Year’s Eve as well as regular old Monday mornings at 8 too. He says depression can also play a role.
“Or maybe you know, family members that have died and trying to remember the holiday when they were there with us and that’s a stressor as well and sometimes when people get stressed they stop taking their meds and stop taking care of themselves and they might drink a little more, they may smoke a little more and all these things add in to that overall coronary disease risk,” says Dr. Ryan Longnecker.
Often times the responsibility of decorating the tree, the rest of the house, as well as the cooking the big meal not to mention the holiday shopping falls on women, and he says heart attacks can happen to them as well as men.
“We’re on medication for a reason and this is not a holiday from those medications, you know we’re on diets for a reason and we try and take care of ourselves 51 weeks out of the year well that 52nd week is just as important,” says Dr. Longnecker.