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The week between Christmas and New Years is the most common time for heart attack deaths

heart attack
Posted at 4:32 PM, Dec 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 16:32:12-05

Heart attacks are more common this time of year. Research shows there’s an uptick in cardiac events in the winter.

According to the American Heart Association, more people die from heart attacks between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 than any other time of the year.

“People forget their medication when they're traveling. People aren't taking things as religiously. They're not compliant, the diets are different. You have holiday parties, office parties,” said Dr. Jeffrey Park, an interventional structural cardiologist with the Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates at the Medical Center of Aurora. “You’re drinking more, you're eating differently. It's the combination of everything that kind of factors into it, I think.”

Experts say overexerting yourself, like shoveling snow, for example, can also be a factor.

“If you're going to do it, take breaks. Make sure you stay warm, bundle up,” said Park. “It’s all the context of when things happen. I think exertional symptoms are more eye-opening than rest symptoms."

Symptoms can include chest discomfort, feeling weak and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.

Signs of a heart attack can look different in men and women. According to The Heart Foundation, common symptoms in men are chest pain, shortness of breath, and discomfort or tingling in the arms, back, shoulder, or neck. In women, additional symptoms could include sudden dizziness, cold sweat, nausea, and a heartburn-like feeling.

So, how can you prevent this?

First, don’t wait.

“If you feel something is wrong, stop, rest, and see if you feel better,” said Dr. Park. “If you start having symptoms, I think a lot of people just don't want to go to the hospital over the holidays, but it's a matter of that makes things a lot worse.”

Experts say it’s best to take it easy. High stress can cause inflammation in the body and rest can be beneficial.