For more than a decade, researchers have been gathering information on the fact that why more people tend to die of heart-related disease during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday than at any other time of the year..
But researchers have struggled to find out why that happens, since these holidays lie in the winter months, when people are more likely to get affected by cold and flu related problems.
A group of researchers from University of Melbourne led by Josh Knight decided to find out the truth. In their quest, they sought the mortality data of New Zealand of the last 25 years, a country where Christmas occurs during summer seasons, so that a correlation between holidays and increase in heart attacks can be established.
To their surprise they found out that even when Christmas occurs during warmer weather, deaths around the holiday season increased by about 4% compared to the average for the rest of year. Moreover, the people dying during this period were slightly younger in comparison. This suggests that the holidays might be a contributory factor.
While this study could not identify the particular factors responsible, other studies have established some clear reasons. Holidays can be stressful for some, who are under social and financial pressure to fulfill their obligations towards their families, which in turn contributes towards a higher blood pressure and aggravation of heart disease.
Another major contributory factor is the rich foods that people consume in the holiday season. From sweets and meat to alcohol, just about everyone becomes over indulgent during this time of the year.
Knight also observes that during the holidays, people also travel a lot and end up in relatively unfamiliar places, where they might or might not seek proper medical attention. Most people who are already ill are also known to practice what is known as displacement of death – people who want to have a last holiday before they bid farewell to the world.
Nonetheless, Knight and his team are of the opinion that these findings are just a starting point and further study needs to be carried out to find out why more people die of heart attacks during Christmas. But surely, cold weather is an unlikely culprit
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