NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Joys of the winter holiday seasons are often ruined for many as research shows that more people die from heart attacks in December than at any other time of the year.

According to a news release, the American Heart Association wants people to be aware of this situation and to take a few important, heart-healthy steps that may save lives.

“The holidays are a busy, often stressful, time for many of us. Routines are disrupted; we may tend to eat and drink more and exercise and relax less. We’re getting too little sleep and experiencing too much stress. We also may not be listening to our bodies or paying attention to warning signs, thinking a trip to the doctor can wait until after the new year,” said American Heart Association Chief Clinical Science Officer Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA. “While we don’t know exactly why there are more deadly heart attacks during this time of year, it’s important to be aware that all of these factors can be snowballing contributors to increasing the risk for a deadly cardiac event.”

Research finds a raise in cardiac events during the winter holiday season.

A study published in Circulation reported that more cardiac deaths happen on December 25 than any other day, the second largest number of cardiac deaths happen on December 26, and the third largest number happens on January 1.

Winter weather has always been known as a trigger for increased risk because of restricted blood flow through vessels that are caused by cold temperatures.

Another study done by Circulation discovered that even in mild climates, like Los Angeles County, roughly a third more heart attack deaths also occurred in December and January compared to June through September.

“Research also shows that the biggest increases in these holiday heart attack deaths are among people who are not in a hospital. This highlights the importance of recognizing symptoms and seeking immediate medical care. Don’t ignore heart attack warning signs because you don’t want to spoil the holidays, the consequences could be much worse,” Elkind said. “It also calls attention to the need for increased awareness of knowing how to perform hands-only CPR. You could be out holiday shopping, enjoying an office party, or spending time at a family gathering and witness someone having a heart attack and going into cardiac arrest. Starting CPR immediately and calling 9-1-1 could be the difference in life or death in those situations. Hands-only CPR is something nearly everyone can learn and do.”

Elkind shared that even though it’s important to live heart-healthy year-round, there are a few tips you should gift yourself and your loved one as the holiday season approaches.

  • Know the symptoms and take action
    • Heart attack signs vary between men and women, but it’s important to recognize them early and cal 9-1-1.
    • The sooner treatment starts, the better the chances are of survival and further heart damage.
  • Celebrate in moderation
    • Eating healthy during holidays doesn’t mean depriving yourself, there are still ways to eat smart.
    • Small, healthy changes and swaps to make so you continue feeling your best while eating and drinking.
    • Don’t forget to watch your salt intake.
  • Plan for peace on earth and goodwill toward yourself
    • Make time to take care of yourself.
    • Reduce stress from any sort of stressors you may find, such as family interactions, finances, schedules, and traveling.
  • Keep moving
  • Stick to medication
    • Busy days mean you could skip your medications, forget them when you’re away, or not get refills in time.
    • This medication chart can help you stay on top of them, and keep an eye on your blood pressure numbers.

The American Heart Association has other ways to live heart-healthy during the holiday season, and all year long on their website.