It would seem that heart attacks really are more common throughout the holiday season, according to a new study carried out by scientists.
We’ve all heard the myth and seen the statistics. The number of heart-related deaths is believed to spike over the holidays. More exactly, over Christmas.
Previous studies carried out in the United States have quite proven the theory. But a reason is as yet still unknown. Some have gone to blame the cold seasonal weather.
New Zealand-based scientists have, as such, undertaken a new study. The Christmas cardiac death effect was measured for another part of the world, a warmer one.
Research results were released earlier this week. The study was published on December 22 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
It was titled as follows. “Revisiting the “Christmas Holiday Effect” in the Southern Hemisphere”. University of Melbourne researchers proceeded to study the “Christmas Holiday Effect”.
The Christmas Holiday Effect targets the December 25 – January 7 holiday season. Heart attacks and other heart condition-related death rates were seen to spike in the said period.
This New Zealand study sought to determine the seasonality effect in the holiday effect. The nation was chosen due to its different seasonal period. In New Zealand, located in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas falls during the summer months.
The study was based on 25 years of data death. It targeted the 1988 up to 2013 period. An average, “expected” number of deaths was estimated for every day of the year.
This daily death number was then compared to the Christmas-period mortality rates. Heart attacks and cardiac events, in general, were observed to increase during the period.
As such, mortality deaths go up by 4 percent during the holiday. This translates to 4 additional deaths per day. As compared to the rest of the year, the average age was also seen to drop.
Research noted that people were, a medium 1 year younger. Their age was compared to the usual, rest of the year, cardiac deaths statistics.
The New Zealand death aligned with the previous United States research results. Back in 2004, a team of American researchers also carried out such a study.
Mortal heart attacks and other related events death rates were analyzed. In the United States, the Christmas effect accounts for almost 5 percent more cardiac events related deaths.
The U.S. research was published in the Circulation journal, Volume 110, Issue 25. It also sought to determine the seasonal/climatic factors.
An exact cause for the rising rates of heart attacks is yet to be determined. Climatic factors had led to a theory. This claimed that winter temperatures could potentially put an extra strain on the cord.
Others potentially blamed seasonal travel and schedules. These, just as the rich meals, are believed to cause a strenuous cord activity. Extra emotional stress and increased alcoholic drink consumptions were also included on this list.
Previous research on the, however, underlined two most possible explanations. One is related to medical care. Some suggest that people do not seek medical attention as they usually would due to the period. Travelling and the new surroundings are believed to account as factors.
The second possibility is somewhat more disputed. It revolves around the “displacement of death”. This suggests that people can try to delay or speed up their death. Sheer will is held accountable for such an event.
Josh Knight, the study lead, offered some comments. He stated that the displacement of death has been both confirmed and refuted. However, it still remains a possible explanation for the increased holiday heart attacks rates.
Knight is a University of Melbourne Centre for Health Policy researcher. More research will be needed in order to determine the exact factors of the spike.
The New Zealand study has similar theories. Alcohol consumption rates, dietary habits, and stress are also amongst the most vehiculated causes.
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