Christmas Eve heart attacks

Another spurious click-baity correlation hits the headlines – the chances of a heart attack rise by around 15% on Christmas Eve.

In Sweden, that is.

Research from Skane University Hospital in Lund, Sweden – a “retrospective observational study”, i. e. a bit of data-crunching that discovered an association – of 283,014 cases of heart attack in Sweden between 1998 and 2013 found that the number of heart attacks goes up on Christmas Eve.

The ‘study’ can’t tell us why this is, what can be done about it, or anything else – it just tells us that there is this correlation between 24 December and a rise on heart attacks. In Sweden. It may be that in Ruritania the number of heart attacks on Christmas Eve falls. Who knows?

The study’s lead author, David Erlinge, is head of cardiology at the university and a bit of a media attention-seeker – he got Reuters interested in a similar tale in October this year, arguing that more heart attacks happen when it is cold. Which was based on – you guessed it – similar correlation data-crunching.

Picture source: Mike Fleming