Reports Reveal a Sudden Spike of Heart Attacks During the Holidays

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It's known as the "Merry Christmas Coronary" or "Happy Hanukkah Heart Attack." For many years, researchers have been intrigued by a disturbing pattern: Deadly heart attacks increase during the winter holiday season. Compared to the rest of the year, research shows a 5% increase in heart-related deaths during the holiday season. Anuradha Kolluru, a cardiologist at Decatur Memorial Hospital, says one reason is stress.

"There is a 41% increase of stress in women and 31% percent in men, so stress plays a major role."

Jeanne Marie Kairouz, a cardiologist at St. Mary's Hospital says another reason is diet.

"You consume foods that they may not eat under normal circumstances. This may relate to higher sodium intake, salt ingestion. Everyone loves their turkey. Everyone loves their pie. However, it might not love your body back."

For years, studies have also shown an increase in depression during the holiday season. Kairouz say this, too, is linked to heart failure.

"People having depression or other emotional related problems may lead to them not necessarily taking as good a care of themselves. Not taking their medications as they typically do."

She says to stay healthy, don't let the holidays disrupt your normal routine.

"If you're someone who's normally physically active, continue that. If you're someone who usually eats a low salt, low sugar diet, continue that. If you're someone who needs to take medications everyday, continue that."

Doctors also say if you're at risk for infectious problems like the flu or pneumonia, make sure you are up to date on vaccinations.

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