Overindulgence can be bad for your heart
Have you ever heard of Holiday Heart Syndrome? It is one of the most common conditions this time of year, and is why you might want to reconsider binging eating and drinking at the holidays.
Image from Better Health // The Hidden Dangers of Holiday Heart Syndrome
What is “Holiday Heart Syndrome“?
Holiday heart syndrome is the term given to atrial fibrillation [Afib], or irregular heartbeat, caused by overindulging in alcohol or food.
It can affect folks who are generally in good health with no previous factors for abnormal heart rhythms. Individuals with underlying heart conditions and those who don’t typically drink alcohol may be more susceptible to the symptoms of holiday heart syndrome than others.
What to be on the lookout for
The symptoms of “holiday heart syndrome” stem from an irregular, often fast, heart rhythm. This faster heart rate can cause a person to feel shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness, chest discomfort, and heart palpitations such as pounding in the chest, racing heart rate, or skipping heartbeats. These symptoms can start and pass rather quickly; however, prolonged symptoms will need to be treated by a medical professional.
Afib increases a person’s risk of a stroke and heart attack, so these symptoms should be taken seriously. Folks with underlying heart conditions should avoid overindulgence in food and alcohol to prevent these symptoms.
How do they treat “Holiday Heart Syndrome”?
Irregular heart rhythms can sometimes stabilize by themselves, but in some cases, prolonged Afib needs to be corrected by a doctor. Emergency rooms across the country report numerous cases of patients with “holiday heart syndrome” around this time of year. Patients who present Afib lasting more than 48 hours will have to undergo a procedure called peri cardioversion anticoagulation, where the heart rhythm is converted by electrically shocking the heart while the patient is under anesthesia.
Enjoy the Holidays, but don’t go overboard
While we might all eat and drink more than we are used to at the holidays, we can take steps to prevent holiday heart syndrome. Know your limitations when it comes to eating and drinking, and try to avoid foods heavy in cream, sugar, and salt. DO NOT ignore the symptoms of holiday heart syndrome, and seek help when appropriate.
The moral of this holiday heartache: Eat, Drink, & be Merry…just don’t overdo it.