Study: Heart attack risk increases during end of December

The American Heart Association suggest ways to prepare for a heart-healthy holiday to avoid heart attacks

UNITED STATES (KVRR) — The end of December is well known as the most wonderful time of the year, but doctors say it’s also when heart attacks are most likely to occur.

According to the American Heart Association, the last week of December brings more heart attack deaths than any other time of year.

The study reports that more cardiac deaths occur on Christmas Day than any other day of the year. The second largest occurs December 26th, and the third largest occurs on New Year’s Day.

A cardiologist at Sanford Health says many people are prone to eat large meals, drink more alcohol than usual and eat foods high in sodium during the holidays.

She also adds the heart attack rate goes up by at least five percent, including any heart-related admissions to the hospital.

“Snow shoveling again contributes to heart attacks. Why? Because, what happens, people who don’t do other activities go out in the cold weather, which we are sort of used to, and start shoveling which is a large stress on the heart. Coronaries become, sort of, thicker during this cold weather and also releases those plaques which causes the heart attack,” says Dr. Susan Farkas.

The AHA suggests at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

Common heart attack warning signs include pain or discomfort over the chest, lightheadedness and nausea.

People may also experience pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm or shoulder and shortness of breath.

Call 911 immediately if you see a loved one going through these symptoms.

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