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Mississippi is Ripe for Holiday Heart Attacks
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Cardiovascular disease including heart disease and stroke is the leading cause of death in Mississippi.  MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports  those who experience heart attacks during the holiday season are more than 5 percent  more likely to die.

Tis the season to be jolly.  But a study by the University of California at San Diego finds that the number of heart related deaths peak between late December and early January with Christmas day being the deadliest of them all.  Dr. Allyn Harris, an internal medicine specialist with the University of Mississippi Medical Center says the reason for the increase is because so many people chose to ignore the symptoms.

"Because they have big holiday plans or family is coming in. They may be seeing family that they haven't seen in a long time and don't want to miss that time. And sometimes the symptoms of a heart attack can be subtle and can be easy to explain away to yourself.  You know I'm just having heartburn and I'm gonna see my doctor next week. So if you wait too long you can have significant damage to your heart."

While there are lots of reasons for heart attacks, holiday stress and heavy meals are known heart attack triggers. That's why Dr. William Little, cardiologist and chair of the department of medicine at UMMC highlights the importance of knowing the symptoms.

"The symptoms of a heart attack are a chest pressure frequently described as a severe weight on your chest. It may radiate or move up into your jaw or down to your arm. It may be associated with shortness of breath and sweating. And so if one has those kind of symptoms you need to seek immediate medical care because those may represent a heart attack."

At least 8 thousand Mississippians die from heart disease every year. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.