This story is a bit of a downer, but it's instructive. More Americans die over the Christmas holidays than at any other time. It's been shown in a recent large-scale study, with holiday-season heart attacks even receiving their own special name - the Merry Christmas Coronary.
The reasons are not, as you might think, the extra stress of the holidays, or overindulgence in food and booze, writes Kent Sepkowitz in a Daily Beast op-ed. So perhaps the higher death rate is caused by Americans' excessive considerateness, suggests Sepkowitz. People "opt to not call their doctor or visit the ER because it's Christmas and they don't want to bother anyone" - anyone being family members who'd be upset by an ER visit to resolve Dad's chest pains or Mom's blinding headache. And waiting just a few hours for medical treatment, especially for chest pains, can be deadly.
That means two things. One is that everyone should address health care emergencies during the holidays just like they would any other time. The other is that "timeliness saves lives" no matter what the time of year. And that's one place we should be investing more health dollars, Sepkowitz writes: Simply make sure people have access to timely care. "Overcrowded ERs that can't move patients through may result in lost lives. People who have a doctor to call when they feel ill do better than those with no one to call and nowhere to go."