Holidays Bring Rise in Heart Attack Deaths

Photo by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at
Photo by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at
TAMPA (2011-12-22) -

Holiday season is, unfortunately, also heart attack season.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in America, and more people die of heart attacks on Christmas Day, the day after Christmas and New Year's Day than any other days of the year.

Experts say cold weather constricts blood vessels, raises blood pressure and strains the heart. This is even true in comparatively warm places, like Florida. Stress, fatty foods and understaffed hospitals may also contribute to the increase in heart attack deaths around the holidays.

Warning signs of a heart attack include discomfort in the chest or upper body, light-headedness and breaking into a cold sweat. Women are also more likely to experience shortness of breath, pain in the back or jaw, and nausea or vomiting -- although men can have these symptoms, too.

Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, the American Heart Association advises calling 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on heart attack risk, warning signs and prevention, click here.

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