If you think the night before Christmas as a time for hot chocolate, warm fires and Bing Crosby albums, a new discovery by Swedish researchers may well break your heart: the risk of a heart attack increases on Christmas Eve.
This finding is based on a comprehensive hospital statistics database that includes 283,014 cases of heart attacks over a 16-year period.
It was published in 2018 BMJ (previously the British Medical Journal) Christmas Edition.
The study appears to put Christmas Eve in the same category of earthquakes, hurricanes, stock market crashes, wars and World Cup football matches – after all these events, scientists have documented that heart attacks are more likely to occur.
On December 24, the risk of a heart attack is 37% higher than normal, the researchers found.
At Christmas, the increase in risk falls to 29%. Even on Boxing Day, it's still 21% above normal levels.
For the sake of comparison, Mondays are known to be a time of increased risk of heart attack. But in Sweden, the risk was only about 10% higher on the first day of the workweek.
O BMJ study is not the first to report an association between the holiday season and myocardial chaos.
A 2004 article in the journal CirculationFor example, it found that deaths from all types of heart disease were highest in the United States, both at Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Previous studies were based on information from death certificates, ambulance records and other types of health data. They could not tell when exactly a patient's heart attack started.
A team led by Moman A. Mohammad of the Department of Cardiology at Lund University decided to fill that gap.
They had a national registry known as Swedeheart (abbreviation for Swedish System for Improvement and Development of Evidence-Based Care in Heart Diseases Evaluated according to Recommended Therapies).
The registry includes "all patients with symptoms of an acute coronary syndrome hospitalized at a coronary care facility or other specialized facility in Sweden," the study authors explained.
Each patient's records indicate when the symptoms began, "to the nearest minute."
To examine the risk of a heart attack on Christmas Eve, the researchers calculated the number of myocardial infarctions (medical term for a heart attack) on December 24 between 1998 and 2013, as well as for the two weeks before and after the holiday. a baseline.
On average, the Swedes suffered 50.3 heart attacks per day during the reference period and 69.1 per day on 24 December.
With a little math, they determined that the risk of a heart attack was 37% higher on Christmas Eve. They were able to identify the maximum risk time: 10pm.
The team repeated the review with several other holidays.
In addition to Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day, they found a significantly high risk on New Year's Day (at 20%), but not on New Year's Eve, Easter or Good Friday. (The risk of heart attack was 12% higher at Midsummer, a Swedish holiday on the eve of the summer solstice which is celebrated with food, drink, music and mast dancing).
The researchers also looked at whether the Swedes suffered more heart attacks during the Olympics or major soccer tournaments, such as the FIFA World Cup.
They do not
Moman and his co-authors said they did not know why people would be more prone to heart attacks on Christmas Eve.
Previous studies have linked "acute experiences of anger, anxiety, sadness, sadness and stress" with a high risk.
Of these, the team wrote that stress is the most likely emotion to come into play on Christmas Eve.
But medical researchers should not be content with simply guessing, the authors wrote – they should conduct more studies to see what is really happening.
"Understanding what factors, activities and emotions precede these myocardial infarctions and how they differ from myocardial infarctions experienced on other days can help develop a strategy for managing and reducing the number of these events," they wrote. – Los Angeles Times / Tribune News Service