More people likely to pass away from heart-related illness around Christmas and New Year's than at any other time of the year, according to research that has been published for more than ten years. However, because the holiday season falls during the coldest months of the year, when people are more likely to have health issues connected to the cold and flu, it has been challenging for studies to determine what is genuinely to blame. The weather factor was dropped by researchers at the University of Melbourne under the direction of Josh Knight. To ascertain the impact of the holidays on heart disease death rates, he and his team examined 25 years' worth of mortality data from New Zealand, where Christmas and New Year's fall during the summer.
They discovered that deaths over the holiday season rose by about 4% in comparison to the norm for the rest of the year, even when Christmas falls during warmer weather. Additionally, the average age of those passing away at this time of year is a little lower than it is for the rest of the year. This shows that, independent of weather and health issues related to colder temperatures, the holidays themselves may be causing an increase in mortality.
Other research have made suggestions about certain potential culprits, even though this study failed to identify the causes. The increase in family, social, and financial commitments around the holidays makes it a stressful time for many people, which can raise blood pressure and exacerbate heart disease risk factors. Richer meals that are frequently served over the holidays, such as meats and sweets, as well as the many opportunities to indulge, may also be a factor. During the joyous holiday season, alcohol consumption also rises, which may put certain people at risk for health issues.
The increase in heart-related fatalities throughout the holiday season may also have some less evident causes. According to Knight, this is a time when many people travel more since they are in new environments and may not seek medical attention as promptly as they would be at home. Additionally, those who are already ill might attempt to delay death until this season in order to spend one more Christmas season with family and friends. This is known as a displacement of death. The results at least suggest that weather and freezing temperatures might not be to blame, however Knight and his team emphasize that the findings are simply a starting point for additional research on what is truly causing the surge in mortality around Christmas.