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Abrazo Health: Know the warning signs to avoid the ‘Christmas coronary’

More than 18.2 million adults over age 20 have coronary heart disease, and each year about 805,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
Cardiac death rates spike by 33% during holidays, Abrazo Health officials say
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Research shows that heart attacks increase in December and January.

Turns out, Christmas Day has the highest incidence of cardiac death, followed by Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. Whether it’s the result of holiday stress or overindulgence, holiday heart troubles are real.

Coronary death rates in December and January are some 33% higher than during summer months, spiking around Christmas and New Year’s, according to a report published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

Stress and anxiety are known to contribute to numerous health problems, so it’s important to know the risks and ways to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack and heart disease, said doctors from Abrazo Health.

“Anxiety, becoming emotionally upset or angry can raise blood pressure and heart rate, which changes blood flow and reduces blood supply to the heart. This can lead to a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems,” said Dr. Gopi Cherukuri, an interventional cardiologist at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital in Phoenix.

A person’s health, lifestyle, age and family history can affect the risk for heart disease and heart attack. More than 18.2 million adults over age 20 have coronary heart disease, and each year about 805,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The classic heart attack comes on suddenly, but many start slowly with mild pain and discomfort,” said Dr. Gagan Kaur, a cardiologist on the medical staff at Abrazo West Campus in Goodyear and Abrazo Arrowhead Campus in Glendale.
Signs of heart attack include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain between the shoulder blades or in the arm, jaw, chest or upper abdomen
  • Dizziness or fatigue
  • Clammy skin or cold sweat
  • Indigestion or nausea and vomiting

Call 911 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

“The holidays are a time of celebration, but for some it can also be overwhelming. Know your limits and listen to our body. If you experience tightness in your chest or any of the classic signs of a heart attack, don’t delay seeking care,” said Dr. Cherukuri.

Other research notes that the increase in cardiac emergencies may stem from holiday-induced delays in seeking treatment.

If you have chest pain or discomfort, it’s important to see a health care professional right away. One common type of chest pain is called angina, and is a sign that one may be of higher risk for heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.

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