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    Holiday Heart Syndrome

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | December 18th, 2022

    Holiday Heart Syndrome

    Every day I learn something new. Before this past week, I had never heard of the holiday heart syndrome, but every news station talks about it. More people appear to die from heart attacks between Christmas and New Year’s Day than any other period throughout the year.  

    Holiday heart syndrome (HHS) is a heart condition that typically develops due to excessive alcohol consumption or binge drinking. This causes an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (AF). Atrial fibrillation causes heart issues like stroke and heart failure. The symptoms include:

    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Heart palpitations
    • Lightheadedness
    • Extreme fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain

    Holiday heart syndrome can happen to anyone and any age. You can be at risk even if you are not drinking much. If you have any of the symptoms above, it is important to seek medical attention. Listen to your body. If you do not feel right, tell someone and get help.

    How do we protect our hearts during the holidays?

    Hydrate – Alcohol tends to cause dehydration. If you are going to drink alcohol, try drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. (This is also a reminder not to drink and drive, have a designated driver for the night). Hydration is essential even if you are not drinking alcohol. Running around and forgetting to keep hydrated can lead to some of the symptoms listed above.

    Do not skip medication – It is important to take your medicine, especially your blood pressure medication, as directed. Missing days of your medication is not safe. When traveling, take your medicines with you. If you forgot your medication, you could call your physician to send a prescription to the pharmacy near you to get you through.

    Find time for fitness – We tend to get off our routine during the holidays. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Go up and down the stairs, walk around the block, dance in place – move, move, move.

    Manage stress – Stress can increase your risk of heart disease. 

    Remember, you can only do what you can do. You should not rob a bank to buy gifts. It is okay if the gift cannot arrive under the tree by December 25. Take time to breathe. In past blogs, I have suggested gifts that do not cost money. Check out the blog, A Gift of Time.

    Merry Christmas

    Heri za Kwanzaa!

    Hanukkah Sameach!

    All the best to you and your family this holiday season.

    2 Responses to “Holiday Heart Syndrome”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      I had never heard of Holiday Heart Syndrome! Thank you for the (as always) extremely important information!

    Leave a Reply

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