Why a heart attack may land you in hospital this festive season

Mombasa Catholic Arch Bishop Martin Kivuva holds a baby doll during this year's Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Mombasa County Governor's Office gardens in Mombasa County on Saturday,015th December,2018 evening. [Maarufu Mohamed,standard]

You are more likely to suffer a heart attack this festive season than any other time of the year, researchers say.

A study published on December 12, by the BMJ, a UK-based medical journal, indicates that the Christmas holiday presents a 37 per cent chance of getting a heart attack.

According to the study, most of the heart attacks happen at 10pm.

“The association of higher risk at Christmas was more pronounced in people above 75, those with known diabetes and those with a history of coronary artery disease,” states the study.

Case analysis

The study was conducted by six specialists led by David Erlinge, a senior consultant of cardiology.

They analysed cases of heart attack between 1998 and 2013, and noted that the situation was made worse by patients’ delaying to report symptoms and seek help because they did not want to disrupt the festivities.

“It is possible that family members visiting relatives after a long time apart find them in a poor general condition and decide to admit them to hospital,” the report explained.

Though the report explained that the risk of heart attack was similar in both genders, men were still found to be more prone to heart attacks. This is the case because men are more likely to smoke, drink and eat more than women.

The risk of heart attack spreads to New Year festivities where it stands at 20 per cent. “This could be due to the effects of excess alcohol and food, exposure to cold temperatures at night, or sleep deprivation on New Year’s Eve,” states the report.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, up to 4,700 persons die from heart diseases every year. However, according to the Health ministry, at least 100,000 people die from heart attacks directly linked to lifestyle conditions such as high blood pressure.

Short term factors

The study titled Christmas, national holidays, sport events, and time factors as triggers of acute myocardial infarction: SWEDEHEART observational study 1998-2013, found short term risk factors of heart attacks to be stress, heavy physical activity, cold weather and pollution.

“We hypothesised that short term risk factors may be associated with a higher risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack),” the study stated.

Sports, which has in previous studies been associated with heart attack, brought back opposite results.

“Sports events were not associated with a higher risk of myocardial infarction, which was contrary to our expectations based on previous studies,” noted the study.

The study looked into 283,014 cases of heart attacks reported to SWEDEHEART between 1998 and 2013. Symptom onset date was documented for all cases, and time, to the nearest minute, for 88 per cent of the cases.

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BMJChristmas holidayHeart attacksFestive season