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Most of us are familiar with the Christmas carol “Deck the Halls.” The opening line, which gaily proclaims “'Tis the season to be jolly”, conjures up visions of laughter, family, and general feelings of good Christmas will.
Unfortunately, the reality of the holiday season is often anything but jolly. Let’s face it - most of us find the time period between Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid-al-Adha, Bodhi Day, or any of the other many holidays celebrated during months of November and December), and New Year’s Day to be stressful. Most of the major holidays involve family, friends, food, celebrations, and of course, presents. Unless you do all of your shopping online (and even that presents some unique challenges), the mere act of getting a parking place at the mall can be an adventure that leaves you exhausted and wishing for the safety of January and the return to work and normalcy! After rounds of relatives, turkey dinners, parties, football games, obligatory school plays, and shopping, many are left feeling a little short on feelings of good will and the only peace they want to find isn’t peace for mankind, but a little peace and quiet around the house while they recuperate from the “celebrations!”
While this may be the season of celebrations, it’s also clearly a season of stress. For those with coronary artery disease (heart disease), the combination of heart disease and holiday stress can be deadly. Fifty percent more heart attacks occur during the winter months than during the other seasons. The highest concentration of heart attacks occurs during the Thanksgiving to New Year's Day holiday season. Since heart attacks can (and do) happen at any time, the sharp rise in heart attacks during the winter money is significant. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that one of the culprits behind the rise in heart attacks during the holiday season isn’t too much holiday cheer - it’s too much holiday stress.
Stress at any time of the year, not just the holidays, is unhealthy for your heart, and may cause an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.