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Protect Against Holiday Heart Syndrome This Season


Holiday eating and heart healthWith the holiday season in full swing and nostalgic tunes overtaking the radio waves, there’s little doubt that home is where the proverbial heart is. However, if family and friends are journeying to your home for holiday merriment, your heart may be in serious danger.

Holiday Heart Syndrome is an aptly named condition which can affect the hearts of otherwise healthy people. Many people who experience this syndrome have never experienced symptoms of a heart condition before. Binge drinking (usually in the form of extra wine, eggnog or other holiday beverage) triggers the syndrome and causes the heart to begin beating erratically and faster than normal.

While overindulging in alcohol can upset the heart’s normal rhythm on any day or any time of year, cardiologists tend to see case of this syndrome peak around the holidays when many people give themselves license to pour an extra glass or two for themselves.

Alcohol on its own is capable of wreaking havoc, but when paired with an abundance of sodium-laden snacks and side dishes, the threat becomes more serious. An abnormal heart rhythm may not sound serious, extreme cases can lead to congestive heart failure or stroke.

People suffering from holiday heart syndrome usually feel their heart beat become rapid or fluttery, which can lead to a drop in blood pressure or fainting. While cardiologists aren’t exactly sure what causes these symptoms, it is believed that a sudden increase of blood to the heart can throw off its natural rhythm.

During the holidays, many people who experience cardiac symptoms have trouble discerning whether the issue is a bad case of indigestion or something much more serious. If your heart begins beating rapidly or irregularly after a big holiday meal, immediately stop eating and drinking and make sure you are sitting or lying down.

If the sensation continues for five minutes, first call 911 and then contact your cardiologist or family doctor. Continued arrhythmias can require prescriptions to help regulate the heart’s function and avoid future problems.

Rather than risk a holiday trip to the emergency room, make a conscious effort to be proactive about protecting your heart. Throughout the holiday season, try to maintain a diet similar to your eating and drinking patterns during the rest of the year. Stick to two glasses of alcohol during your big lunch or dinner, and drink only in conjunction with a balanced plate including plenty of heart-healthy vegetables.

Want to learn if you are at risk for holiday heart syndrome? Schedule an appointment with one of our cardiologists today!

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