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Holiday Heart Attacks

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Heart Attack related image Photo: Getty Images

For most, the holiday season is a time of great joy -- parties, celebrations, gift giving, and just plain overall good cheer as for the briefest of times, we all walk in an attitude of peace-on-earth-and-goodwill-to-men.

Unfortunately, the holiday season is also a time of extremes in temperature and for some, considerably elevated stress levels as people strive to juggle the often competing demands for time. This time of year, people are preparing for the many holiday celebrations, and there may be strain on the finances.

Despite the intended joy the season should bring, for many, the season brings a very unexpected and unwelcome gift -- a heart attack.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s Day is much more than just the holiday season. It’s also the season of heart attacks. More people die of a heart attack during the winter months than any other time of the year. According to Dr. Robert Kloner, a cardiologist at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, California, heart attack-related deaths are highest in the United States during the winter months of December and January.

This trend of higher heart attack deaths during winter months appears to be universal. For example, heart attack deaths are highest in Australia during the month of July which is their winter, according to Kloner.

Why are heart attacks deaths more common during the winter months than other times of the year? A number of factors may come into play including shorter days with limited sunlight. Also, diseases such as the flu or pneumonia are more common during the winter months and such diseases are harder on those with existing heart disease.

Kloner believes that the winter cold is one of the biggest culprits in causing an increase of heart attack deaths during the winter months. Cold causes an increase in blood pressure and blood vessels to constrict making the heart work harder to pump the blood.

A recent Canadian study also linked winter activities such as shoveling snow to an increased risk of heart attack. (See Shoveling Snow Increases Risk of Heart attack, http://www.empowher.com/heart-attack/content/shoveling-snow-increases-risk-heart-attack )

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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