Because life is little more than a cruel joke, a new study found that people are 37 percent more likely to have a heart attack on Christmas Eve than on the same day one week earlier or later.
The researchers came upon this, uh, heartbreaking discovery after analyzing 283,014 heart attacks recorded in Swedish medical records from 1998 to 2013. As for why, they believe that the heightened emotions associated with the holiday, along with seeing family, are to blame: “Previous meta-analyses have shown that acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and stress increases the risk of myocardial infarction and thus possibly explains the higher risk observed in our study.”
This increased risk of heart attack is (perhaps obviously) even more pronounced in people older than 75 and those with diabetes or a history of heart disease, which means you should avoid exciting grammy and gramps at all costs. It’s also worth noting that Swedes celebrate more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day, meaning Americans might experience this increased risk whenever they observe the holiday, rather than on December 24th specifically.
If your heart doesn’t explode on Christmas Eve, don’t start celebrating yet: You get another chance days later, since the researchers also noticed that people are 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack on New Year’s Eve. As you might have expected, alcohol is mostly to blame in this case. “This could be due to the effects of excess alcohol and food consumption, exposure to cold temperatures at night, or sleep deprivation on New Year’s Eve,” they explain in the study.
Better open those presents early this year if you want a chance to play with them.