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More fatal heart attacks over Xmas: study

AAP logoAAP 23/12/2016 David Sigston

Australian researchers may have proved that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins in examining the cause of a spike in fatal heart attacks over the Christmas period.

Cardiac deaths outside of a hospital rise by 4.2 per cent between December 25 and January 7, the research by Queensland University of Technology and the University of Melbourne found.

QUT Associate Professor Adrian Barnett says although there is no conclusive reason for the spike, factors may include people putting off seeking medical attention or a simple case of "over-indulgence" in food and alcohol.

Another possibility is a "displacement of death" where a person either hastens or postpones their death for reasons associated with the holiday season, Prof Barnett said.

The research, carried out in New Zealand, was the first of its kind done in the southern hemisphere.

It had never been possible to determine the degree to which cold weather affected similar research done in the northern hemisphere, Prof Barnett said.

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