Melbourne, Dec 23, 2016: Deaths related to heart disease go up around Christmas and they are not because of the cold winter season when death rates are usually at a seasonal high, says a study.
Debunking the belief that the spike in deaths during Christmas is mainly due to the cold winter season, the study said that people tend to hold back in seeking medical care during the holiday season, a factor that could probably explain the rise in such deaths.
“Spikes in deaths from natural causes during Christmas and New Year’s Day has been previously established in the US,” said study author Josh Knight from the University of Melbourne in Australia.
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“However, the Christmas holiday period (December 25th to January 7th) in the US falls within the coldest period of the year when death rates are already seasonally high due to low temperatures and influenza,” Knight said.
In this study, researchers analysed trends in deaths in New Zealand, where Christmas occurs during the summer season when death rates are usually at a seasonal low — allowing researchers to separate any winter effect from a holiday effect.
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The study — published in JAHA: Journal of the American Heart Association — found a 4.2 per cent increase in heart-related deaths occurring away from a hospital from December 25 – January 7.
During the 25-year study, the average age of cardiac death was 76.2 years during the Christmas period, compared with 77.1 years during other times of the year.
Although more research is needed to explain the spike in deaths, the researchers suggested one possibility may be that patients hold back in seeking medical care during the holiday season.
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“The Christmas holiday period is a common time for travel within New Zealand, with people frequently holidaying away from their main medical facilities. This could contribute to delays in both seeking treatment, due to a lack of familiarity with nearby medical facilities, and due to geographic isolation from appropriate medical care in emergency situations,” Knight said. (IANS)
Women who sleep poorly tend to overeat and consume a lower-quality diet, say health and lifestyle researchers, adding that poor sleep quality can increase the risk of heart disease and obesity.
Previous studies have shown that people who get less sleep are more likely to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease–and that the relationship may be partially explained by diet.
The current study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, was designed to get a more comprehensive picture in women by examining associations between overall diet quality and multiple aspects of sleep quality.
“Women are particularly prone to sleep disturbances across the life span, because they often shoulder the responsibilities of caring for children and family and, later, because of menopausal hormones,” said Indian-origin researcher and study senior author Brooke Aggarwal from Columbia University Vagelos.
For the findings, the researchers analysed the sleep and eating habits of an ethnically diverse group of 495 women, ages 20 to 76. The study looked at sleep quality, the time it took to fall asleep, and insomnia.
The women also reported on the types and amounts of foods they typically eat throughout the year, allowing researchers to measure their typical dietary patterns.
Similar to previous studies of sleep and diet, the study found that those with worse overall sleep quality consumed more of the added sugars associated with obesity and diabetes.
Women who took longer to fall asleep had higher caloric intake and ate more food by weight, the researchers said.
And women with more severe insomnia symptoms consumed more food by weight and fewer unsaturated fats than women with milder insomnia.
“Our interpretation is that women with poor-quality sleep could be overeating during subsequent meals and making more unhealthy food choices,” said Aggarwal. “Poor sleep quality may lead to excessive food and calorie intake by stimulating hunger signals or suppressing signals of fullness,” said study lead author Faris Zuraikat.
“Fullness is largely affected by the weight or volume of food consumed, and it could be that women with insomnia consume a greater amount of food in an effort to feel full,” Zuraikat added.
“However, it’s also possible that poor diet has a negative impact on women’s sleep quality, eating more could also cause gastrointestinal discomfort, for instance, making it harder to fall asleep or remain asleep,” Zuraikat concluded. (IANS)