Oct. 3, 2005 -- December is a particularly deadly month for heart attacks, a new study shows.
That may be all the more reason to make your heart's health a top priority starting now, before the hustle and bustle of the winter holidays set in.
More of those heart attack patients hospitalized in December died within 30 days than those hospitalized during any other month, write the researchers. They included Trip Meine, MD, of Duke University.
The study appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
About 22% of heart attack patients hospitalized in December died within 30 days, compared with about 20% of those hospitalized in other months.
Why was December worst for heart attack deaths? Was it due to the emotional stress of the holidays, vacationing doctors, or treatment trends?
The answers aren't known yet. More studies should be done, write Meine and colleagues.
They considered lots of factors about the patients, hospitals, and doctors in the study. No culprit stood out. Treatment types weren't any different in December either, the researchers found.
The Best Time for Treatment
The best time to get treated for a heart attack has nothing to do with your calendar. All year long, it's essential to get immediate medical help at the first sign of a possible heart attack.
In Meine's study, most hospitalized heart attack patients survived, no matter when their heart attacks struck. The sooner heart attack treatment can start, the better. So take a moment to review the warning signs of a heart attack.
Remember, heart attacks don't always strike with chest-clutching drama. Also, keep in mind that heart disease (which includes heart attacks) is a leading cause of death for men and women alike.
Possible heart attack symptoms listed by the American Heart Association (AHA) include:
Avoiding Heart Attacks
You can take steps to help prevent a heart attack. The AHA offers these heart-friendly tips:
- Don't smoke.
- Avoid other people's tobacco smoke.
- Find out if you have high blood pressure. If you do have high blood pressure, treat it.
- Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt.
- Be physically active.
- Keep your weight under control.
- Get regular medical checkups.
- Take any prescribed medicine as directed.
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.