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Holiday heart attack: why you might be most at risk right now

Posted at 6:40 PM, Dec 26, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “Around Christmas, around holidays there’s sort of a spike in the incidents of heart attacks.”

Dr. Vijay Iyer, head of cardiovascular medicine at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB said this phenomenon has been studied internationally.

“The reasons for this are not particularly clear, but it appears that it’s multifactorial.”

The American Heart Association lists a variety of factor that could contribute to higher heart attack rates during the holiday season including stress, travel, changes in diet and exercise, increased alcohol consumption, financial stresses, and changes in physical activity levels.

“[This is] in addition to the fact that people may have underlying heart problems, the stress associated with this time may be contributed to the incidents of heart attacks.”

Today, Dr. Iyer said the majority of heart attacks are not fatal -- “The actual death rates from heart attacks is less than 45% overall.”

But, the same things doctors tell patients year-round to prevent an attack still applies during the holiday season: know your risk factors, exercise regularly and watch your diet, and get your flu shot.