Every year during the Christmas season, heart-related deaths spike in the U.S. A new study reveals that there are actual increased risk factors for heart issues during the holidays, but it’s not because of the colder temperatures, according to a report by The Huffington Post.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, used New Zealanders as a comparison group. New Zealanders proved to be the ideal group, because they celebrate Christmas during their summer time.
New Zealand is located in the Southern Hemisphere. People in this country experience their summer weather from December through February, but still celebrate Christmas on December 25, because the country was once an English colony.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia analyzed New Zealand death data from 1988 to 2013. They came up with an “expected” number of deaths for each day of the year. The researchers then compared their model to the actual deaths each day over the Christmas holiday period, which they defined as December 25 through January 7. They found a 4 percent increase of cardiac events over the holiday period, leading to about four additional deaths each year.
The results align with a 2004 statistical analysis in the U.S. According to that study,
The U.S. experiences an almost five percent higher rate of cardiac deaths during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, as well as other deaths from natural causes.
The Australian researchers were not certain about what caused the spike of cardiac deaths in New Zealand during the Christmas season. Previous research, however, supports two possible explanations: The first is that the Christmas season prevents people from seeking medical care when they normally would, because of the need to travel and a lack of familiarity with new surroundings; and the second theory is about “displacement of death” due to sheer will, which means that people would actually either try to delay death or speed it up in consideration of a holiday date that is special to them.