High risk of death on holidays due to heart disease

High risk of death on holidays due to heart disease

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More deaths from heart disease on Christmas holidays
In a study, researchers from an Australian university found that more people die from heart disease during the Christmas holidays than at other times. The reason for this is apparently not the winter cold, but other factors.

More heart attack deaths during the Christmas vacation
A study by the “University of Melbourne” (Australia) showed that more people die from a heart attack during the Christmas holidays than usual. The researchers who now published their results in the “Journal of the American Heart Association” also provided notes that it is not the cold but other factors that are responsible for the increase in deaths during this period.

Increased risk of death in winter
Earlier studies in the United States had shown that there are more heart attacks so common during the Christmas holidays. Experts assumed that this effect is due to the winter cold.

It has long been known that there are more fatal heart attacks in winter. Health experts such as the German Association of Resident Cardiologists (BNK) have also pointed to an increased risk of complications such as heart attack, stroke or poor circulation in the heart in cold weather in the past.

The reason for this is that the blood pressure automatically increases at low temperatures because the blood vessels contract to regulate the temperature. People with high blood pressure or underlying diseases such as coronary artery disease or hardening of the arteries should therefore be particularly careful in the cold months.

It is not the winter cold
In their study, however, the scientists at the Australian university evaluated data from New Zealand, a country where summer is Christmas and New Year's Eve and warm temperatures prevail.

This also showed that there were significantly more deaths from heart diseases between Christmas and the first week of January. Cold here cannot be the reason for the increased numbers.

Lower average age of the deceased
The scientists evaluated data from a period of 25 years (1988-2013) for the study. There were 738,409 deaths, 197,109 were the result of a heart disease. Between December 25 and January 7, however, this death rate increased by an average of 4.2 percent compared to other times of the year.

In addition, the dead were younger. The average age of people who died of heart disease during the Christmas holidays was around one year lower at 76.8 years than the number of deaths during the rest of the year.

Stress and unhealthy eating at Christmas
The researchers were able to separate the "holiday effect" from the "winter effect" by evaluating the data from a country that is summer at Christmas, study author Josh Knight from the "University of Melbourne" said in a message.

Although the scientists cannot make a definitive statement about the causes of the Christmas holiday effect, Knight says that factors such as limited access to health care during the Christmas holidays, emotional stress, changing diet and alcohol consumption play a major role here.

On the first point, he said: "The Christmas holiday season is a popular time to travel in New Zealand". People would then be away from their main medical facilities. "This can lead to a delay in looking for treatment due to a lack of familiarity".

Date of death could be chosen
Knight pointed out another possible explanation. It could therefore be that people choose a day for their death that is important to them.

"The ability of individuals to modify their date of death based on meaningful data has been confirmed and refuted in other studies, but there is still a possible explanation for this holiday effect," said the researcher. (ad)

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