JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – American Medical Response (AMR) leaders reported that the rate of heart crises increases from Thanksgiving to New Year’s with Christmas Day, the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day having the highest spike in heart crises.

A study between 1973 and 2001 analyzed over 53-million deaths and found “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.” Further studies have not overturned the original findings.

AMR medics said some of the reasons for the spike is due to holiday stress, skipping medications, dietary mistakes, over-exertion, consuming too much salt, having large meals, drinking large quantities of alcohol, skipping exercise and eating more fatty food than usual.

It’s important to recognize an emergency heart problem quickly and call 911 immediately. Particularly during the holidays, all too often, a person suffering a cardiac emergency doesn’t tell anyone. Symptoms can include pain in the chest, jaw or down the arm, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness or nausea.

Steve Peacock, AMR Central Mississippi Operations Manager

Medics recommend avoiding triggers, paying attention to your heart and calling 911 at the first sign of a problem.

“Unfortunately, many people who experience cardiac symptoms may put off going to the doctor or delay calling 911 because they do not want to disrupt holiday festivities. That delay can be fatal,” said Peacock.