Objectives To study circadian rhythm aspects, national holidays, and major sports events as triggers of myocardial infarction.

Design Retrospective observational study using the nationwide coronary care unit registry, SWEDEHEART.

Setting Sweden.

Participants 283 014 cases of myocardial infarction reported to SWEDEHEART between 1998 and 2013. Symptom onset date was documented for all cases, and time to the nearest minute for 88%.

Interventions Myocardial infarctions with symptom onset on Christmas/New Year, Easter, and Midsummer holiday were identified. Similarly, myocardial infarctions that occurred during a FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championship, and winter and summer Olympic Games were identified. The two weeks before and after a holiday were set as a control period, and for sports events the control period was set to the same time one year before and after the tournament. Circadian and circaseptan analyses were performed with Sunday and 24:00 as the reference day and hour with which all other days and hours were compared. Incidence rate ratios were calculated using a count regression model.

Main outcome measures Daily count of myocardial infarction.

Results Christmas and Midsummer holidays were associated with a higher risk of myocardial infarction (incidence rate ratio 1.15, 95% confidence interval 1.12 to 1.19, P<0.001, and 1.12, 1.07 to 1.18, P<0.001, respectively). The highest associated risk was observed for Christmas Eve (1.37, 1.29 to 1.46, P<0.001). No increased risk was observed during Easter holiday or sports events. A circaseptan and circadian variation in the risk of myocardial infarction was observed, with higher risk during early mornings and on Mondays. Results were more pronounced in patients aged over 75 and those with diabetes and a history of coronary artery disease.

Conclusions In this nationwide real world study covering 16 years of hospital admissions for myocardial infarction with symptom onset documented to the nearest minute, Christmas, and Midsummer holidays were associated with higher risk of myocardial infarction, particularly in older and sicker patients, suggesting a role of external triggers in vulnerable individuals.

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