What You Should Know About Holiday Heart Syndrome

What You Should Know About Holiday Heart Syndrome

When you are at a party or visiting relatives, there are several occasions where your discipline is put to the test when it comes to food and drink. While it’s acceptable to indulge in the food havens during the festive season, sometimes going overboard might harm your health.


What You Should Know About Holiday Heart Syndrome

When you are at a party or visiting relatives, there are several occasions where your discipline is put to the test when it comes to food and drink. While it’s acceptable to indulge in the food havens during the festive season, sometimes going overboard might harm your health.

Holiday heart syndrome is the presence of heart arrhythmia, most commonly atrial fibrillation, that emerges after excessive alcohol consumption, is reported to happen even to healthy people.

Source - Verywell Mind

The Term: Holiday Heart Syndrome

The term “holiday heart syndrome" first appeared in medical journals in 1978. Doctors highlighted that cardiac rhythm issues are linked with binge drinking, which primarily happens during the holidays.

Episodes usually followed heavy weekend or holiday sprees, resulting in hospitalization between Sunday and Tuesday or in proximity to the year-end holidays, a relationship not observed in other alcohol-associated illnesses," the study authors wrote. 

Another research published recently discovered that the risk of a heart attack increased to over 15% during the Christmas / New Year’s holiday. The risk also elevated after New Year’s Eve and other July festivities.

The holiday heart syndrome is particularly severe after heavy drinking. When people quit drinking, it usually goes away on its own. So, if you detect a faster-than-normal or your heart rate flutters while drinking, it’s probably necessary to ditch down on the wine.

“It’s an illustration that anything to excess is not a good thing. So, the advice that we give our patients for everything from alcohol to caffeine to supplemental vitamins to exercise is ‘everything in moderation is a good rule to follow. You can overdo it. Holiday heart syndrome is something that illustrates that very well," Dr Nicholas Skipitaris, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told Healthline.

Does Alcohol Cause Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Even though holiday heart syndrome has been identified for nearly 40 years, the exact reason alcohol impacts the heart is still unknown.

Alcohol impacts both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and many other bodily activities that tend to affect cardiac arrhythmia.

Any time the muscle of the heart is affected, the electrical system of the heart which is built into the muscle cells of the heart can also be affected," said Skipitaris. 

Alcohol intake, especially during the holidays, may affect the heart. Money, Christmas presents, and entertaining relatives can all be the factors to heightened stress during this season. With candies, snacks, and different fatty meals hanging around the home, your healthy diet might also change drastically for the worse.

A Christmas party or a visit from relatives might also put your sleeping pattern and exercise schedule off track.

As a result, it may go without saying that the heart attack rates each year continue to spike around the holidays.

However, this syndrome is not always hazardous. While a high heart rate or missed beat is alarming, it is likely to settle independently without additional symptoms or a history of cardiac issues.

People may develop some extra beats or some little palpitations if they’re otherwise feeling OK — hopefully that gets better within 24 hours. The most important thing from my perspective is don’t keep doing what you’re doing if you’re not feeling well," said Skipitaris. 

Alcohol-related cardiac arrhythmias should be taken seriously in certain situations. If they are linked with other symptoms such as: 

  • Light-headedness
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Loss of consciousness due to chest pain

Heart arrhythmias are linked to more severe consequences such as heart failure and stroke, all of which may be fatal if not treated properly.

Not only is arrhythmia part of holiday heart syndrome, but [so is] heart failure. So [holiday heart] can also be associated with a poor pumping function of the heart, where you develop heart failure, and the blood is not being pumped through the body the way it’s supposed to, and you can become short of breath" said Skipitaris. 

These are the most dangerous conditions that may arise when you get holiday heart syndrome. While most cases will naturally resolve with alcohol abstinence, it’s critical to be aware of how you’re feeling and always think of your health and remember your medical history.

If there is an abrupt change in how you’re feeling or if you’re at all concerned [and think] ‘oh gosh this doesn’t feel right to me,’ it’s always better to err on the side of having a professional take a look at you," said Skipitaris. 

It might be best to skip the sauce entirely when it is already your fifth glass of spiked eggnog.

Sources

Source – Healthline

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