According to numerous scientific studies, heart attacks increase on Christmas and New Year’s Day. In fact, heart-related deaths are five percent more common during the holiday season.

Heart attacks are also one of the 10 most commonly misdiagnosed medical problems. That makes the holidays an especially dangerous time for people with undiagnosed heart conditions.

What Should I Do If I Think I’m Having A Heart Attack?

First, recognize the symptoms. A heart attack displays differently for men and women. Common symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, sweating, extreme fatigue or heartburn.

Second, go see your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. If your doctor doesn’t order cardiovascular tests go seek a second opinion.

Third, if you have a sudden onset of the above symptoms call 911. Every minute counts during a heart attack. If you think that you might be having a heart attack, call 911. Your life is at stake.

A Delay In Diagnosis Or Misdiagnosis

The heart is a muscle, the greater the damage, the more likely it is to shut down. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions are key to avoiding a heart attack, heart damage and death.

Remember, heart attacks are one of the 10 most commonly missed health conditions and often there is no excuse for the missed diagnosis.

Why The Increase Over The Holidays?

While the exact cause for the spike in cardiovascular problems over the holidays is not known, research points to several contributing factors:


Holiday parties mean rich foods and alcoholic beverages. Foods high in fat and sodium can cause insulin levels to spike and fluid retention – both of which put pressure on arteries and cause plaque buildup.


Anxiety, depression and emotional stress are all common feelings during the holidays, and are all shown to be associated with cardiovascular events. Physical stress is another contributing factor. Lack of sleep due to busy holiday schedules, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and over-exertion while shoveling snow can all increase the likelihood of a heart attack.

Winter Colds, Flues And Medications

Flues and colds cause inflammation in the body. This can cause plaque to expand, and block and rupture arteries. Decongestants and other cold medicines can also narrow blood vessels, causing a spike in blood pressure. Blocked arteries and increased blood pressure are precursors to heart attacks.