Heart Attacks Increase During December and January

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It’s no secret that we have a stronger chance of becoming sick during the winter months. With the colder weather for one, our immune systems become compromised, making it harder for our bodies to fight off infections. As well as flu and colds, heart disease is becoming another major seasonal health crisis.

According to new research published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, the winter season is a risk factor for cardiac death. Interestingly, there’s no one specific culprit for this uptick in cardiac events during the holidays, but researchers suggest that it’s likely a combination of factors.

These include changes in diet and alcohol consumption during the holidays; stress from family interactions, strained finances, travel and entertaining; respiratory problems from burning wood; and not paying attention to the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

“The progression of heart disease doesn’t happen overnight, so an uptick in cardiac death during the holidays is actually more the acute manifestations of the disease,” said Jorge Plutzky, M.D., a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “Factors like cold weather, stress and dietary indiscretion can contribute to a chain of events leading to more stress on the heart. A cardiac event might be triggered because the heart is working harder.”

If you needed a reminder to stay calm and take care of yourself, then this is a solid piece of advice from the AHA. Alongside stress, seasonal gorging is likely the biggest candidate for cardiac distress. It’s easy to go for another slice of pie, helping of stuffing, or even another drink, but remember how you might typically eat during the year.  If you’re aware of a pre-existing cardiac condition, then take greater precautions. Taking control of what you consume over the holidays can help prevent future cardiac events.

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