Monday Mornings And Other Times When Heart-Attack Risks Increase

African American man holding his chest.

The cases of 283,014 heart attacks and their relationship to the days of the year were recently studied, particularly concerning stress and its affect on longevity. The study postulates that Christmas Eve as well as other important events increases the possibility of heart attacks during the year.

The peer-reviewed British Medical Journal (BMJ) published the research which claims that by 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve hearts attacks reach a peak due to holiday stress and anxiety especially for older and sick people.  However, it also stated that these same people are likely to be at risk for a heart attack already.

Other times that the risk of heart attacks were also higher was celebrating the New Year, as well as holidays during the summer and at 8 a.m. on Monday mornings.  Though this was not the case during the Easter holiday nor during major sporting events. The report added, “Other short-term events linked to emotional stress, such as major sporting events, hurricanes and stock-market crashes, have also been associated with a higher risk of heart attack.”

According to David Erlinge, head of cardiology at Lund University in Sweden, who led the study, emotional feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress were associated with an increase in the risk of heart attacks in previous studies.  He said, “People are likely to experience ‘heightened emotions’around stressful holidays.”

Past studies have also shown peaks in heart attacks surrounding national holidays in differing cultures.  For the Western World they happen during Christmas and New Years celebrations but in countries where Islam is prevalent heart attacks occur during their Islamic holidays.

This current study revealed the greatest risks were to people over 75 as well as people who had diabetes and heart disease. Researchers of the study said this throws light on the need for these issues to be addressed and for people to be made more aware of the higher potential for heart attacks because of their condition which could be the cause of added stress in their life during holiday festivities.

However, surprisingly, they found no connection between increased heart attacks during sporting events and on Easter holiday celebrations.  

This study focused on the exact timing of heart attacks reported by 283,014 people to the Swedish coronary care unit over a period of time from 1998 to 2013.  This is the biggest study done using data on heart attacks from a well-known registry, claims the authors of the research.  

Despite this resource, they express caution because it was an ‘observational study,’ and therefore, they did not come away with conclusive causes and effects. 

Therefore,“The results suggest correlation rather than causation, and we cannot rule out other variables that may contribute to this increased health crisis.”