We all know the festive season can be stressful. But, experts are now warning that Christmas Eve could see a spike in heart attacks brought about by the pressures of Christmas, seasonal sadness and over indulgence.
In fact, researchers have pinpointed a time that heart attacks are most likely to happen: at 10pm.
Scientists from the Lund University analysed 283,014 heart attacks recorded in Swedish medical records over a 16-year period from 1998 to 2013 to find out what days could present the biggest heart attack risk.
The study, published in the BMJ, revealed that 50 heart attacks were recorded on an average day, but on Christmas Eve that figure jumped to 69, which equates to a 37% increase.
In general, heart attack rates at Christmas were found to be 15% higher than in the weeks before and after.
The research also revealed that the risk of suffering a heart attack also rises by over a fifth (22%) on Boxing Day.
In Sweden the main part of the festivities takes place on Christmas Eve which suggests that in the UK, the highest risk could be 10pm on Christmas Day.
Interestingly, while New Year’s Eve might be associated as being a period of over indulgence and emotional stress, researchers found a higher risk on New Year’s Day.
The study authors suggested this could be down to family members visiting their hungover relatives on New Year’s Day!
The after effects of too much alcohol and food the night before, coupled with sleep deprivation could also explain the increased NYD risk.
Commenting on the findings Dr David Erlinge, Department of Cardiology, Clinical Sciences, Lund University, told the Telegraph: “The main findings in our study were that traditional holidays were associated with the risk of heart attack.
“The peak is very pronounced exactly on Christmas Eve and the following two days, so, I think it is something specific for the way we celebrate these holidays.”
Though researchers couldn’t say for certain what was causing the increased risk, they thought the stress of the holiday period could be contributing.
“We do not know for sure but emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress increases the risk of a heart attack. Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance travelling may also increase the risk.
“Interestingly, the pattern of increased risk in the morning which dominates the rest of the year was reversed at Christmas, with an increased risk in the evening, indicating that the stress and eating during the day triggered the heart attacks.”
In terms of lowering the risk the study authors suggested: “People could avoid unnecessary stress, take care of elderly relatives with risk of heart problems and avoid excessive eating and drinking.”
Read more from Yahoo Style UK: