Holiday heart syndrome! Experts reveal why THIS week is the time of the year you’re most likely to have a heart attack

Photo of author
Written By Rivera Claudia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

  • Stress, poor dietary choices and increased alcohol around holidays are to blame
  • Fatal heart attacks are most common on Christmas day and New Year’s day
  • READ MORE: Christmas puts your heart at risk – here’s how to protect yourself

Stress, poor diet, and increased alcohol intake around the holidays are to blame for a rise in heart attack deaths this time of year.

Cardiologists have reported a 15 percent greater risk of fatal heart attacks at the tail-end of the holiday season every year, most markedly on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 

Tragedy is most likely to strike elderly people and those with underlying cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking.  

In addition to stress and poorer diet around the holidays, experts have pointed the finger at a lack of sleep and a failure to recognize signs of a problem, including chest pains, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. 

All of these factors come together to cause what cardiologists call ‘holiday heart syndrome’. 

Cardiologists have reported a 15 percent greater risk of fatal heart attacks at the tail-end of the holiday season every year

Every year during the holiday season, millions of Americans abruptly change their eating, drinking, and exercising patterns. 

For many, festive foods, celebratory drinks, and social gatherings are quintessential ingredients for happy holidays. 

But the attitude that holidays are a time for guiltless indulgence could be harmful, especially for people who are already pre-disposed to heart problems. 

Dr Johanna Contreras, a cardiologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital System in New York City and a volunteer for the American Heart Association, said: ‘The holidays bring a lot of added stress to many people. There are lots of parties and family gatherings where many tend to overindulge in rich foods and drink.’    

Holiday heart syndrome is most typically associated with a sudden rise in alcohol consumption that causes irregular heart rhythms, known as atrial fibrillation.

Other factors, including stress, dehydration, and overeating rich or salty foods, may may also trigger arrhythmias in certain people, which increases their risk of heart attack as well as stroke. 

The term ‘holiday heart syndrome’ was coined by Dr Philip Ettinger in 1978 after he found a link between arrhythmias and binge drinking, particularly around weekends and public holidays. 

The deadly phenomenon was first reported in a 2004 study published in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association. 

In it, researchers determined that during the winter holidays, there is an approximately 4.65 percent increase in cardiac deaths and a five percent increase in noncardiac deaths compared to what would be expected if the holidays had no effect on mortality. 

Subsequent investigations have backed this up. A British Medical Journal study published in 2018 found a 15 percent overall increase in heart attacks during the winter holidays among people living in Sweden. 

More specifically, heart attacks increased 37 percent on Christmas Eve, peaking at 10pm, and more often in people over 75. 

It’s likely that 2023’s holiday season will prove deadlier than previous years’, given that more serious heart attacks occur on Mondays than any other day of the week. Christmas Day fell on a Monday this year. 

And the excitement around the holidays may obscure warning signs. At the same time, people are generally less inclined to visit their doctors over the holidays.  

Dr Contreras said: ‘No one wants to think of tragedy during this joyous time of year as we gather with family and friends. However, these startling facts are very sobering.’

In the US, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds, and a total of more than 800,000 Americans experience one annually. 

Fatality rates due to heart attacks used to be as high as 50 percent. Today, more than 90 percent of people survive. 

SOURCE

Leave a Comment

sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws sws mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt mdt