Why is there a spike in heart attacks over the holidays?

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Why is there a spike in heart attacks over the holidays?
EMBED <>More Videos

What are heart attack symptoms for men and women? Northwestern doctor shares signs to watch for.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While many people are off work and school to enjoy the holidays, it's actually one of the worst times of the year, for heart attacks.

Doctors say emergency rooms are very busy this week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Doctor Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern, joined ABC7 to talk about the so-called "holiday heart attack."

Dr. Yancy talked about what contributes to a spike in cardiac events around the holidays as well as the different signs for men and women.

Heart attack rates spike 30 to 40% between Christmas and New Year's, with factors such as cold weather, stress, lack of routine in eating, sleeping, drinking and taking medications being contributing factors.

For men, heart attack symptoms include heavy, crushing chest pressure in the middle of chest and/or sudden, unexplained shortness of breath.

Women can experience the same symptoms as men as well as other more diffuse ones, such as shortness of breath or profound fatigue, or occasionally, dizziness and lightheadedness.

For signs of strokes, Dr. Yancy said to use the mnemonic device, FAST:

-Face drooping

-Arm or leg weakness on one side

-Speech difficulty

-Time to call 911