High risk of heart attack at Christmas

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DAK-Gesundheit: Statistics show a particularly large number of heart attacks on Christmas days

The Christmas season is not only the time for rest and relaxation among the closest relatives. The gift purchases have to be done, the Christmas tree has to be ready in time on the 24th, and there are still tasks in the job that have to be done by the turn of the year. For many people, this phase of the year is also associated with a lot of stress and sometimes leads to a heart attack in some.

In this regard, the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit carried out an evaluation of the hospital data of its insured persons from 2009 to 2012. It was noticed that a third more people diagnosed with “heart attack” were admitted during this period than the annual average. “Men are particularly affected. The festival of love literally beats the heart, "said the DAK.

The health insurance company sees private and professional stress as possible causes of increased heart attacks. According to the evaluation, there are an average of 40 hospitalizations due to a heart attack in Germany on Christmas Eve and on the first Christmas holiday. For the rest of the year, only 30 admissions per day are reported, according to the health insurance company.

"There can always be deviations from the average," said Peter Rowohlt from DAK-Gesundheit. "The accumulation at Christmas in all four consecutive years is very noticeable." Men are particularly at risk because in more than 60 percent of consignments, a man is the needy. Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in Germany.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, in 2012 more than 40 percent of all deaths were associated with this disease. Of the 55,425 people, 56 percent were men. However, the Christmas season only contributes to this increase to a limited extent, because heart problems usually arise due to long-term causes, which in the worst case end in an infarction. The main risk factors for coronary artery disease include smoking, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and sedentary lifestyle. If obesity and an unbalanced diet are added, the risk is even increased.

Christmas Eve was not always like this. Although stress is considered to be a major trigger for heart attacks, Christmas was not always the time for acute heart failure. The Society for Cardiology had evaluated the data of 36,400 heart attacks in 2007 and came to the unexpected result. At Christmas time, the infarction rate was unexpectedly 10 percent lower than in the rest of the year. A reduction was also observed in the three days before. The company had stated that the daily and seasonal fluctuations in the occurrence of a heart attack are primarily related to changes in the autonomic nervous system.

It can only be speculated why the latest evaluations of DAK health now come to the opposite result. To prevent cardiovascular diseases, doctors recommend regular exercise of about three times 30 minutes a week, a varied diet with low animal fats and meat and alcohol only to a very limited extent. Nicotine should be avoided entirely. (fr)

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