Researchers say Christmas Eve is the worst day of the year for heart attacks, saying the risk rises by as much as 37 percent.

The observational study, conducted in Sweden, analysed 238,000 heart attacks between 1998 and 2013.

The researchers from Lund University said they found that a person’s risk of heart attack is at an optimal level by 10pm on December 24.

The results were more pronounced in patients over the age of 75, persons with diabetes and those with a history of coronary artery disease.

The researchers say although they could not ascertain the reason behind the spike, emotional distress, anxiety, sadness, grief, holiday activities, and stress increases the risk of a heart attack.

Other factors also noted include excessive food intake, alcohol, and long distance traveling.

Based on their analysis, the risk of heart attacks was generally found to be higher during Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day.

The researchers, however, said their findings are merely observational but noted that it points to a need for awareness.

The study authors sad: “In this nationwide real world study covering 16 years of hospital admissions for myocardial infarction with symptom onset documented to the nearest minute, Christmas, and Midsummer holidays were associated with higher risk of myocardial infarction, particularly in older and sicker patients, suggesting a role of external triggers in vulnerable individuals.”

The research was published in the British Medical Journal.



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