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Healthy Living Blog – Holiday Heart Syndrome: A Holiday Downer

The holiday season is usually filled with joy and fun but unexpected heart problems can quickly zap the mood. Studies have found that heart attack risk peaks during the Christmas and New Year holidays, but it might not have to do with the colder weather. It may be because of overeating, binge drinking, and emotional stress that happen during every holiday season.

 

What is “holiday heart syndrome?”

It’s a term coined in 1978 to label the increase of emergency room patients during the holidays who complained about their racing, irregular heartbeats. These heartbeats are called “atrial fibrillation” or AFib.

Possible causes include:

  • Binge drinking
  • Overeating fatty and salty foods

Sometimes, there are symptoms that can come with an irregular heartbeat. You should seek medical attention right away if you have these symptoms:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Having a hard time breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Tiredness

Holiday heart syndrome usually comes out of nowhere for healthy adults. They may experience a fast heart rate or for a short amount of time and it goes away on its own with no long-term problems. Those who have existing heart problems are at a higher risk of suffering from complications related to holiday heart syndrome.

 

How to avoid holiday heart syndrome

Most people usually overeat and binge drink while enjoying the holiday festivities. To prevent holiday heart syndrome from ruining the fun, you can practice some self-control, which includes:

  • Not overeating. During the holidays, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast and never go to a party starving. You should also be mindful of the portions you’re eating.
  • Not binge drinking. If you choose to drink, stick with spacing out your drinks during your time at an event.
  • Exercising. Keep doing physical activity during the holiday season which boosts your heart health.
  • Relaxing. The holidays can be stressful. If you are stressed out, make sure to take a break to do breathing exercises. These exercises can help reduce heart rate and stress.

 

Have questions or curious to learn more?  Please reach out to our Health Center and make an appointment to speak with a doctor.  AACI provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and many other languages. Call (408) 975-2763 to schedule your appointment today!