The holiday season doesn’t just bring Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, but a balanced dose of stress and depression. While the joyous times certainly can make everyone feel good, it’s the disruptions that happen in our day-to-day prior that can give anyone a headache.
From meal planning to maxing out the credit card to get the right gifts for everyone, it’s never an easy time to maintain order when things become as tangled as Christmas lights.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic presents another challenge. Beyond the unrest of the summer months and the election in November, Americans are bracing for the second wave of COVID-19, which falls right as the holiday season kicks off.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised against large gathering of the past, calling for smaller or virtual gatherings in order to protect yourself and the ones around you.
Regardless, the strain of COVID-19 and the holidays certainly have stress way up — and that’s something to consider, especially on Christmas Eve.
On the night before Christmas, the risk of suffering a heart attack is highest around 10 p.m., according to a study published in 2018, which says that emotional stress is at its peak on Christmas Eve.
The study, published in The BMJ, examined 283,014 cases of myocardial infarction in Sweden between 1998 and 2013. Researchers were interesting in see how major holidays and sporting events — like the FIFA World Cup, the winter and summer Olympic Games — contributed as triggers of myocardial infarction. It also included major holidays such as Christmas, New Years’s, Easter, and holidays in the summer.
The study, which is an observational study, found that the risk of heart attacks increases by 15% on Christmas Eve compared to the weeks leading up to the holidays. In Sweden, where they celebrate Midsummer, the risk of heart attack increased by 12%. Sporting events were not associated with higher risk of myocardial infarction, nor was Easter, according to the study.
Backing previous research that has shown that anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress increase the risk of heart attack, the study found that people older than 75 with diabetes or a history of coronary artery disease were at risk during Christmas due to the the triggers.
“Understanding what factors, activities, and emotions precede these myocardial infarctions and how they differ from myocardial infarctions experienced on other days could help develop a strategy to manage and reduce the number of these events.
“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. If this were the case, we would expect to see a decline in the number of myocardial infarctions in the weeks after Christmas compared with the weeks leading up to the holiday,” researchers said in the study.