The United States usually sees an increase in the number of deaths due to the heart attack during Christmas season. While one may wonder as to what could be causing many people to die of heart attack during Christmas, many studies have failed to conclusively establish the cause for the sudden spike in heart attack related deaths every year during December.
What Could Be The Reason For This Strange Trend?
“Spikes in deaths from natural causes during Christmas and New Year’s Day has been previously established in the United States. However, the Christmas holiday period (December 25th to January 7th) in the U.S. falls within the coldest period of the year when death rates are already seasonally high due to low temperatures and influenza,” says Josh Knight, B.Sc., study author and research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Although several studies have hinted at cold weather as one of the causes for the strange spike in deaths due to heart attack, a new study reveals the trend has nothing much to do with weather.
Weather Isn’t The Cause Behind Heart Attacks
A recent study published in Journal of the American Heart Association by Josh Knight and his colleagues presents the likely causes for the strange trend. The study was carried out in New Zealand, where Christmas occurs during the summer season. This allowed the researchers to rule out the weather factor. The researchers analyzed death trends in New Zealand during a 25-year period when there were a total of 738,409 deaths, which were noted as cardiac deaths. “The Christmas holiday period is a common time for travel within New Zealand, with people frequently holidaying away from their main medical facilities. This could contribute to delays in both seeking treatment, due to a lack of familiarity with nearby medical facilities, and due to geographic isolation from appropriate medical care in emergency situations,” Knight said.
Several theories also discuss causes like the effect of holidays on diet, alcohol consumption along with stress. The new study, however, casts light on the fact that lesser number of staff at medical facilities and changes in the physical environment due to traveling during the holidays are significantly responsible for the sudden spike in cardiac-related deaths. But the researchers state that the study did not track daily temperatures. New Zealand has an island climate, which almost eliminates the extremes of temperature that have been associated with heart-related death rates in previous studies.