MANILA — Doctors nationwide have observed a glaring increase in incidence of heart attack and stroke during the holidays.

Dr. Dante Morales, Philippine Society of Hypertension president, said incidence of heart attack and stroke commonly surges during December and January and peaks on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

“Many of those patients die even before reaching the hospitals or just days after suffering stroke and heart attack,” he said.

Morales said recent studies done abroad have indicated a sharp increase in cases of heart attack and stroke during the holiday season.

The same studies indicated that the stress and over indulgence in food and alcohol drinks, failure to take prescribed medication, as well as the cold weather during the holidays trigger the heart attack and stroke, he added.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said no government data are available, but studies confirmed the rising trend of heart attack and stroke during the holidays.

He urged the public to be cautious with their health during Christmas festivities to avoid non-communicable diseases or so-called lifestyle-related ailments like cardiovascular disease that could lead to stroke and heart attack.

Citing government data, Ona said non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer and diabetes are among the leading causes of death in the country.

“Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and diabetes mellitus, the four major non-communicable diseases in the country are linked by four most common and preventable risk factors related to lifestyle — tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and alcohol use,” he said.

Ona said increased consumption of foods high in fats and sugars and a low level of physical activity among almost the entire adult population led to the rise in the incidence of such diseases in the country for the past years.

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