Preventing 'holiday heart syndrome': Doctors warn of increased heart attacks during festive season

November 25, 2023  20:10

While the holidays are a time for fun and family, doctors say they can quickly turn into a scary situation with the season interrupting daily routines.

Dr. Fahmi Farah, an invasive cardiologist, medical director and CEO of Bentley Hart Medical Center, said doctors see an increase in heart attacks and heart failure around the holidays, what they're calling "holiday heart syndrome."

However, Farah said there are steps you can take to lower your risk.

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“Making sure that you're staying compliant with your medications," Farah said. "Don't skip your doses. Staying healthy with your food choices, avoiding foods that are high in sodium, so salty foods.”

Alcohol is also considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

“During the holiday season, people tend to indulge in higher amounts of alcohol consumption and alcohol actually weakens the heart muscle and it can cause people to go into heart failure,” Farah said.

Don’t count out holiday stress.

“People feel overwhelmed with lots of things to do, things to plan, lots of emotions, lots of people even overwhelmed with finances," motivational speaker Loka Pandya said.

If you're feeling overwhelmed around the holidays, Pandya said to slow it down.

“Slow everything down. If you're already feeling that as you're hearing this, just take a few deep breaths," Pandya said. "Then, go ahead and write everything down so you can see it so it's not so overwhelming.”

Doctors say in some cases it can be hard to tell the difference between a heart attack and heartburn, especially after eating a big meal, but signs to watch out for are a heavy sensation in your chest, difficulty breathing, and profusely sweating.

If you think you have heartburn and it’s not going away, then it might be time to ask your doctor.

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