How to avoid holiday heart attack syndrome
Research studies have found that fatal heart attacks are highest during the winter holidays. One study conducted by researchers at the University of California San Diego corroborated that more cardiac deaths occur on Christmas Day than any other day of the year, peaking on New Year's Day.

Do you know what Holiday Heart Syndrome is? Do you know heart attack deaths during the winter holiday season are more likely to happen than any other time of year?

Read on here for the ways & tips to help prevent the “Happy New Year Heart Attack,” known as the “Christmas Coronary” phenomenon. But let’s first see some facts about heart attacks during holidays.

Do Heart Attacks Increase During Holidays?

Scientific research over time has shown more heart attacks occur during the winter holiday season than any other time of the year. More people die from heart attacks between December 25  and January 1.

The winter holidays are often busy and stressful times for most people. Routines go haywire. People tend to eat and drink more, relax and exercise less. In general, people also may not pay attention to warning signs or listen to their bodies, thinking it can wait until after the new year. All these can contribute to increasing the risk for heart attack at this time of the year. You must be aware of these risks.

So what should you do or not do to protect yourself from a heart attack this holiday? Here is essential information to share with your family and friends.

What Day And What Holiday Are Most Common For Heart Attacks?

Studies too have corroborated that cardiac events occur more-than-normal rates during the winter holidays. The top three days for deaths from heart attacks in the U.S. are:

  • Christmas Day (December 25) – Highest
  • Day after Christmas (December 26) – 2nd highest
  • New Year’s Day (January 1) – 3rd highest

How To Prevent Holiday Heart Attacks?

Here are some simple tips that can help you keep your heart healthy and prevent any cardiac event from taking place and enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season. Read this list twice and enjoy your winter holidays.

NOTE: If you have a heart condition (for example, irregular heart rhythms or high blood pressure) or previously had a heart attack, your heart attack risk is more than those who do not have a cardiac history.

Preventing Holiday Heart Attacks – Do’s and Dont’s

Considering contributing factors associated with heart attacks during the holiday season (per the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association), here are some tips & ways to minimize your risk of a holiday heart attack syndrome.

  1. Avoid stress during holidays such as hectic schedules, too many family interactions and traveling, strained finances, and other stressors. Physical and emotional stress can increase the level of the stress hormone (cortisol). High-stress level increases heart rate, platelet ‘stickiness,’ and vascular tone. People having high cortisol levels are five times more likely to suffer and die of a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular events.
  2. DON’T skip medication. Busy holidays can make you forget medications. Keep a medication chart handy to help you stay on top of it, and be sure to keep watch on your blood pressure numbers.
  3. Avoid cold temperatures. Cold weather narrows blood vessels, which on the one hand, increases blood pressure and, on the other, decreases oxygen to the heart. Both are bad for your heart. Fifty-three percent more heart attacks occur in the winter season. Cold temperatures cause arteries to shrink, restricting blood flow and reducing oxygen supply to the heart. Before going out in the cold, always wear layers.
  4. DON’T shovel. Snow and dirt are heavy. So a very high degree of physical exertion is needed to move it. In addition, shoveling is another heart stressor and thus a high-risk activity, particularly during the holidays.
  5. Keep moving: The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Unfortunately, many people don’t keep up with this number during holiday buzz. So think of some creative ways to remain active. It could be even going for a family walk or having some other fun activity with your loved ones.
  6. DON’T overeat, over-salt, and over-drink. In general, people tend to overindulge during holidays. Too much drinking, too much sugar, salt, and fat can make your heart pump harder to circulate blood and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. A heavy meal can trigger a heart attack within twenty-six hours. Heart attack risk increases four times in the two hours after a large meal, called the two-hour “hazard period.”
  7. Listen to your body and get immediate medical care. Unfortunately, people tend to dismiss the symptoms and signs of a heart attack during the festive season. They may be running many errands at that time or don’t like to disrupt the festivities.
  8. Get a flu shot. A recent study has reported getting a flu shot can help lower the chances of a heart attack, stroke, and cardiac death by about fifty percent.
  9. Avoid getting too close to the fireplace. Studies have reported that fine particles from the smoke can go deep into the lungs. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  10. Keep handy non-coated aspirins. At the first signs of a heart attack, call your doctor! The sooner medical treatment starts, the better the chances of preventing heart damage and survival. Heart attack signs can vary in women and men.

Important Note: When you notice the first signs, chew the aspirin (an antiplatelet that helps prevent the formation of blood clots). Chewing, not swallowing, 325 mg adult or four baby aspirin of non-coated aspirin for thirty seconds, followed by 4 oz. water can immediately help to stop the blood clot formation process. If you have a prescription for a vasodilator, take that after taking the aspirin. A vasodilator helps open up the arteries.

11. Celebrate in Moderation:  This is the season when we tend to have higher alcohol consumption and unhealthy changes in diet.  Eating healthfully during the holidays doesn’t require you to deprive yourself. Drink in moderation. Look for healthy swaps. Remember to keep a watch on your sodium intake.

Stay Fit & Enjoy holidays!

About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Fitness Buffhq - Renu bakshiPersonal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”

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