Paramedics at AMR are warning Mississippi residents to watch for signs of cardiac crises as the risk of experiencing a serious heart ailment increases from the Thanksgiving holiday to New Year’s.
According to a study published by the American Heart Association (AHA), the highest number of heart attacks are reported to be on Christmas Day each year.
In studying 53 million deaths nationwide between 1973 and 2001, researchers found that the number of cardiac deaths is higher on December 25 than any other day of the year, second highest on December 26, and third highest on January 1.
During that time, there were about five percent more deaths from cardiac crises compared to other days of the year.
“Particularly during holidays, all too often, a person suffering a cardiac emergency doesn’t tell anyone,” Ryan Wilson, operations manager at AMR Central Mississippi, explained. “Symptoms can include pain in the chest or jaw or down the arm, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness or nausea. Women suffering a heart crisis are more likely than men to feel pain in the arms, back, neck or jaw, stomach pain, and extreme tiredness even if they’ve been sitting for a while.”
Medics recommend individuals avoid “triggers” for cardiac crises, pay attention to their hearts, and call 911 at the first sign of a problem.
The triggers often result from holiday stress, skipping medications, and dietary mistakes. Cold weather, over-exertion, and drinking large quantities of alcohol can also contribute to holiday heart crises.
A form of cardiac crisis paramedics often see with “holiday heart” is called atrial fibrillation, which occurs when the heart does not pump blood effectively because the upper and lower chambers of the heart are not beating in synch.
“With atrial fibrillation, heartbeat may feel rapid, racing, bounding, irregular or fluttering. Heartbeat can also feel too slow,” Wilson stated. “If symptoms such as these last more than five minutes, call 911.”
Wilson added that ambulance services and hospital emergency departments expect an uptick in emergency heart patients during the year-end holidays.
“This time of year many people who feel such symptoms put off going to the doctor and even delay calling 911 because they do not want to disrupt holiday festivities. That delay can be fatal,” Wilson said.
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