Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online


Increased risk of heart attacks at Christmas

December 2018

Elderly man helping decorate tree
Christmas can be a time of stress as well as fun

This is not what we want to hear in the fun and busy lead up to Christmas…but evidently for anyone at risk of heart problems, this is the most dangerous time of year.

It seems that Christmas Eve is the most common day of the year to suffer a heart attack, and the risk peaks at 10pm on the night before Christmas, where a recent study shows there is a 37 per cent increased risk of heart attack.

The research has been carried out by the respected Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and reported in the British Medical Journal.

The study analysed over 280,000 heart attacks which occurred over a 16-year-old period and found that heart attacks peaked at 10pm on December 24th. Interestingly Christmas Day appears a little safer although still a dangerous time with a 29 per cent increased risk. Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are also dates which showed a higher risk, up by 20 per cent.

One small thing to be aware of in this report is that most of the people involved in the study where Swedish, where the main Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas eve rather than Christmas day. But nevertheless it is a good indication of how special events can affect our health.

Christmas can always be a stressful time; with family arrangements, loneliness, sorting out gifts and food all adding to the load over the Christmas period. As one ages, these aspects can become more acute and the study emphasized that the risk was greatest in the over 75s and for people with existing diabetes and heart disease.

The study emphasizes there is a need for society to be aware of this problem over the Christmas period.

Any anxiety, stress, grief of anger can be a trigger and an American psychologist, Nicholas Joyce from the University of South Florida, has put together three steps to help avoid those family arguments or disputes that happen so often during the Christmas period.

He says people should look at the “let it go” process which involves three steps:

  • Notice and allow an experience to be there
  • Decide if the experience is useful or not
  • If useful, do something about it, if not, let it go

This can be translated into many situations. For instance, when someone gets concerned about their grandchild’s eating habits starts, instead of getting cross, the emotional aspect should be put aside and instead the grandparent should consider first whether commenting on the situation will help and bring a result or whether it will just create bad feeling.

There is no one simple answer to avoiding stress at Christmas, but being aware of the health risks is a great incentive to keep calm and relaxed during the festive season.

Back to LaterLife Interest Index

Bookmark This Share on Facebook Receive more like this


Latest Articles:

Health food of the month: Potatoes


Potatoes are more of a health food than many people realise. A medium, unsalted plain baked potato with skin will only have around 160 calories and is naturally fat and cholesterol free. On top of that, potatoes are full of phytonutrients, organic components of plants such as carotenoids, flavonoids and caffeic acid that promote health.


AXA Health: Dementia signs, symptoms and diagnosis


Poor brain function can be down to many things, but it can be an early warning sign of dementia. So it’s important not to ignore or dismiss it. Knowing the cause of the problem means you can get the right help and treatment. Unfortunately, there is no one test for dementia, partly because it isn’t a single disease.


Wake up to modern hypnotherapy

Man lying on a sofa

Hypnotherapy has been around for thousands of years and has enjoyed a range of reputations, from being considered a brilliant medical technique with real benefit to patients to a dark magic where people can be influenced to perform silly and embarrassing deeds.


Slow but sure, doctors are beginning to get on top of Parkinson’s

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s disease is one of the problems associated with ageing because the symptoms usually begin to show after the age of 50. One in 500 people being affected by Parkinson’s, and at the moment there is no cure, so it is no wonder that as we age, Parkinson’s is one of the diseases we start worrying about.


Back to LaterLife Health Section

Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site


Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti