Risk factors for stroke include psychological effects, such as depression. Festive occasions (such as Christmas in Hungary) may carry a significant emotional impact and may therefore contribute to increased cardiovascular risk. Thrombolytic treatment of acute ischemic stroke has a narrow time window and allows for the precise assessment of stroke incidence.
We analyzed anonymized national data of the number of thrombolytic treatments for acute ischemic stroke and the number of stroke-related deaths between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2016 in Hungary within 2-day, 5-day, and 1-month periods preceding and following 24 December each year. Analysis of subgroups based on age (below and over 65 years) and sex was also performed.
The number of thrombolytic treatments was higher in all three periods preceding Christmas compared to the corresponding period that follows the feast. This increase was particularly prominent in men below 65 years of age. While overall stroke-associated mortality was increased 1 month after Christmas, the death rate was higher a month before rather than after Christmas in men below 65 years of age and in women both below and over 65 years of age 5 days before Christmas.
These findings may predominantly relate to emotional and psychological factors. In case of women, the anxiety secondary to festive preparations, while in men below 65 years, the increased psychological stress of providing financial security for the celebration may play an important role.

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