Protect Your Heart Over the Holidays

Heart healthy holiday tips ensure a festive season

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) As you gather with you family to eat holiday treats and open gifts, don't forget about your heart. The excitement of the holidays means the tendency to overlook or skimp in protecting cardiovascular health.

There is an increase of about 5 percent in the number of cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks around Christmas and the New Year.

That is partly because individuals procrastinate seeking care from a physician, but also because there is a tendency to be less self-focused.

"Never overlook chest pain; call 911 immediately."

Dr. Brandon Stacey, a cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, notes that the increase in heart-related issues is common. He reminds of the importance of immediately calling 911 or heading to the closest hospital if you or a family member experience chest pain or discomfort.

He suggests that individuals can lower their risk of a heart attack over the holidays simply by following tips suggested by the American Heart Association, such as:

*Avoid gluttony by making sure you don't overindulge with food or alcohol. Enjoy the holiday meal, but don't overstuff. There's always leftovers tomorrow.

Drink in moderation. Overconsumption of alcoholic beverages can lead to a common heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

*Take it easy mentally and physically. Engage in physical activity, but don't overdo it. Make an effort to manage holiday stress.

*Don't skip your flu shot. Getting sick adds extra stress to your heart. Flu shots are widely available, so if you're unable to take time off of work to get the shot, consider visiting your local grocery store or pharmacy. Many offer flu shots and provide evening and weekend hours.

*Keep warm by making sure you wear clothing that is appropriate for the weather. Find activities that are indoors when the temperatures are particularly low. Cold temperatures can increase blood clotting and prompt blood vessels to constrict.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 22, 2011
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013