KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The holidays can be daunting with both financial and emotional stresses potentially wreaking havoc on your health.
A new study from Sweden released this month found the risk of having a heart attack rises nearly 40 percent on Christmas Eve.
The observational study analyzed the timing of 283,000 heart attacks over 15 years, finding the most at-risk time for heart attacks to be 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
A cardiologist at UT Medical Center says while it’s difficult to pinpoint one day with the most patients reporting symptoms, but rather, it’s easier to pinpoint a season or time of year.
“As far as the holidays leading to heart disease, some people think they’re more stressful and others think they’re more relaxing,” said Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, cardiologist at UT Medical Center. “We do see more patients typically during the holidays who are trying to get in to see the doctor at the end of the year.”
Johnson says the cold and winter can be a factor in increases in heart attacks.
“Historically, people have always found that heart disease manifests itself in cold weather because cold weather causes the vessels to constrict,” said Johnson.
Women and heart disease
Heart Disease is the number one killer of women, according to the American Heart Association.
Johnson says research has improved in the last few decades to include more information about women and heart disease. That includes treatment and symptoms for heart attacks.
“Women can commonly have atypical symptoms, such as, abdominal pain, shortness of breath without chest pain, fatigue, nausea, those would be the most common atypical symptoms,” said Johnson.
He says the risk factors can be the same between men and women, including: hypertension, diabetes, sedentary activity, high cholesterol, and a family history of heart disease.
Johnson recommends “knowing your numbers” to prevent any risk or identify it early. That means knowing blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.