- The number of heart attacks are on the rise during the festive period, finds a new study.
- Most of the heart-related deaths occur due to stress, high-calorie diet, alcohol consumption and lack of medical services during the festive season.
Heart attacks are on the rise during the festive season in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, says a new study conducted by a research team at the University of Melbourne. The contributing factors for heart-related deaths are a lack of access to hospitals, stress, high-calorie diet and increased consumption of alcohol.
Previously conducted studies have linked Christmas holidays to heart attacks. However, it could be due to the season 'Winter' where the mortality rates are at their highest.
‘Stress, high-fat diet, high intake of alcohol and lack of access to hospitals are the factors that contribute to heart-related deaths during the festive season.’
Link Between Christmas Holidays and Heart-Related Deaths
The research team at the University of Melbourne analyzed 25 years' of death records of heart attacks between Christmas and the first week of January, during summer in the southern hemisphere.
The findings showed that heart-related deaths occurring out of the hospital during the Christmas period increased by 4.2 percent in New Zealand.
The average age of cardiac death was 76.2 years during the Christmas period compared with 77.1 years at other times of the year.
Lead author and researcher at the Centre for Health Policy at the University of Melbourne, Josh Knight, said by using data from a country where Christmas occurs in the height of summer, he was able to separate any "holiday effect" from the "winter effect."
Restricted access to health care facilities might be combined with other risk factors such as emotional stress, changes in diet, alcohol consumption result in the spike in cardiac deaths. Some patients may postpone seeking medical care during the holiday season.
"The Christmas holiday period is a common time for travel within New Zealand, with people frequently holidaying away from their main medical facilities," he said.
"This could contribute to delays in both seeking treatment, due to a lack of familiarity with nearby medical facilities, and due to geographic isolation from appropriate medical care in emergency situations."
"The ability of individuals to modify their date of death based on dates of significance has been both confirmed and refuted in other studies. However, it remains a possible explanation for this holiday effect," Mr Knight said.
The research is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
- Josh Knight, Chris Schilling, Adrian Barnett, Rod Jackson, Phillip Clarke, "Revisiting the "Christmas Holiday Effect" in the Southern Hemisphere;" Journal of the American Heart Association (2016)