Is Santa Risking a Heart Attack this Christmas? New Campaign from Heart Research UK and FCB Health Europe Seeks to Educate People on the Risk of Heart Attacks Over the Winter Period

Research from the UK and Sweden has shown that Christmas can put a huge strain on our hearts, with approximately a 37% increase in heart attack risk on Christmas Eve.1 Seasonal changes and the rise in contagious illnesses including influenza can contribute to a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, and it’s especially dangerous for those already leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

To highlight the dramatic effect the festive season has on heart health, FCB Health Europe, an IPG health company, has created a special Christmas awareness campaign supporting the lifesaving work of heart charity Heart Research UK. With his stressful job, poor diet, irregular exercise and fondness for mince pies and sherry, there is one high-risk individual who fits this profile on Christmas Eve… Santa Claus himself.

Introducing ‘A Healthy Heart Christmas’- a new campaign from Heart Research UK and FCB Health Europe designed to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease in winter. The campaign features hand-painted illustrations of classic Christmas scenes, but with a sobering twist. Amid the tinsel, tree and twinkling lights, Santa is shown clutching his chest and collapsing to the floor, experiencing the devastating effects of a heart attack.

Reports show that deaths due to cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease increase during the winter months, with heart attacks (myocardial infarction) being more prevalent.

In 2019/20 in the UK, there were 6,661 excess winter deaths due to cardiovascular disease which included 2,820 deaths due to coronary heart disease. In addition to this, research from Sweden found that the risk of myocardial infarction increased by 15% over the Christmas and New Year period, peaking at 37% on Christmas Eve.

The awareness campaign is being launched online, across social media, and in print, to drive awareness of heart health this holiday.

And in the spirit of keeping Santa’s heart healthy, the campaign has partnered with Thortful, the UK’s largest online card marketplace, to create a set of limited-edition Christmas cards showing the festive scenes restored to how they should look, with Santa as his usual merry self, delivering presents all across town. Proceeds from sales of the cards will go towards funding Heart Research UK’s lifesaving work, so buying the cards will hopefully help more people (like the Santa on the cards) have a happy Christmas in the future.

Finally, as part of a radio spot promoting the campaign, BAFTA-winning actor and Line of Duty star Mark Bonnar has lent his voice to a special twist on the iconic Christmas poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’, encouraging people to visit Heart Research UK’s website and donate.

“Christmas is a special time of year when we can all let our hair down and over-indulge a little and the aim of this campaign is to merely remind everyone that moderation is a good thing. Eating healthily, exercising, and taking care of ourselves can sometimes take a back seat over the Christmas period and therefore we are just reminding people that striking a good balance is the key to a happy and healthy Christmas. Our campaign aims to draw attention to the impact of not taking care of our health, with a familiar face at the helm. We don’t want to shock or upset people but to educate and inform, at Christmas and all year round,” says Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive at Heart Research UK.

Discussing the idea itself, Jamie MacCarthy-Morrogh, Executive Creative Director at FCB Health Europe, explains “People don’t realize that Christmas time is such a risky time for heart health. And with Santa’s risk factor-filled, Christmas Eve lifestyle, he felt like the perfect ambassador to get our message across; helping to make people think about their hearts this Christmas, and raise money for the wonderful work that Heart Research UK does.”

Anyone who wants to donate towards Heart Research UK’s life-saving research or learn more can visit the Heart Research UK website (, where they can access a range of useful tips and guidance on how to take care of their heart and make little changes to their lifestyle and diet over the holidays.

The range of limited-edition Heart Research UK Christmas cards are available to purchase here with all proceeds supporting Heart Research UK.


Client: Heart Research UK
Client team: Tom Smith, Joan McGregor

Agency: FCB Health Europe
President: Jörg Hempelmann
Executive Creative Directors: David Prater, Jamie MacCarthy-Morrogh
Associate Creative Director: Christian Louzado
Senior Copywriter: Simon Wood 
Client Service Director: Philippa Crabb
Director PR & Communications: Jerome Cholet
Account Executive: Siya Amin
Senior Designer: Kristian Binks
Creative Resources Director: Shanie Connard

Heart Research UK
Tom Smith
Head of Marketing and Communications
0113 234 7474

FCB Health Europe
Jerome Cholet
Director PR & Communications Europe
+49 162 29 42 764

About Heart Research UK

Proud to stand out from the crowd, Heart Research UK is the charity dedicated to your heart. They inspire and invest in pioneering medical research, ground-breaking training, and education, and in communities to improve their heart health for themselves. For over 50 years they have driven advancements in the prevention, treatment, and cure of heart disease to benefit patients as soon as possible.

In the last 10 years, Heart Research UK has funded over £10.2m in medical research in hospitals and universities across the UK, as well as £2.2m on innovative community-based lifestyle projects to improve the heart health of the nation.

If you’d like to support Heart Research UK’s vital work into the prevention, treatment, and cure of heart disease, please visit for inspiration on how you could help.

Heart Research UK Registered Charity No. 1044821.
Heart Research UK, Suite 12D, Joseph‘s Well, Leeds LS3 1AB. 

About FCB Health Europe, an IPG Health Company

Part of the IPG Health network, FCB Health Europe is a group of award-winning creative advertising agencies focused on creating game-changing marketing solutions for consumers, patients and healthcare professionals. With more than 200 experts covering a wide range of health and wellness practices, we seamlessly connect and assemble bespoke teams to help our clients meet the challenges of today and the future.  

Our clients include the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies as well as countless startups, biotech companies, biopharma companies and a variety of life science companies. We provide a vast offering of multi-channel capabilities that include DTC and HCP communications, professional training and education, branding, scientific services, strategic planning, media services, and more. 

FCB Health Europe has offices in Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Madrid, London and Hampshire and works with offices in Paris, Milan, Istanbul, Belgrade, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Zurich. To learn more, visit: 

1 Erlinge, David et al. (2018): “Christmas, national holidays, sport events, and time factors as triggers of acute myocardial infarction: SWEDEHEART observational study 1998-2013”, in: British Medical Journal,