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  • Dr. Bob

Holiday Heart Attacks. It's a Real Thing.

It’s December. The weather has gotten cooler, plans are being made and schedules are filling with social events commensurate with the season. Days are getting shorter as they are crammed with more commitments.

Typically there are more events than there are days or evenings to hold them. People get in a rush. There is so much to do and so little time. Preparations have to be made. Decorations have to be removed from the closet, dusted off, and carefully placed. Calorie dense foods are prepared. The eggnog flows. And those chess squares…

A large study in Sweden found that there is a 15% increased risk of heart attacks between Christmas and New Year’s holidays compared to the two weeks before or after. The risk peaks at 10 PM on Christmas Eve, when the incidence of heart attacks increases 37% over the control dates.

Is it the stress of the holiday? Is it the colder weather? It is hard to blame the weather here in Georgia. Risk factors for holiday heart attacks include age above 75 years and diabetes. Consider this, too: if you are 75 years old, you have outlived many of the people you once held dear, so Christmas may have a very different meaning for you. It could be a focus for intense grief, depression, and isolation.

So take it easy during the holiday season. Deal with your stress somehow. Keep things calm and happy. If you are really stressed, watch one of those awful Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. You only need to watch one, as the plots are all the same.

Find someone who is over 75 years old and invest some time. It may help them, but it may help you more.

Remember the reason for Christmas and focus on that happy event. Focus on the meaning of this season for your faith. Seek happiness in the relationships around you. Look for the joy that has eternal implications.

Wise men sought out the Christmas child, and wise people still do.

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