Heart Health and the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us which means more opportunities to get together with family, friends and co-workers to share a festive meal.  These year-end festivities will usually become excuses to overeat and consume excessive amounts of alcohol. For some who partake in these poor health habits, these actions can result in heart problems and even sudden heart attacks.

Every year, during the months of December and January there is an increase in hospital visits due to heart-related complaints.  The most common issues that result in a visit to the ER during this time of year include:

  • Drinking too many alcoholic beverages which causes an elevation in blood pressure and can lead to an irregular heartbeat.
  • Eating a big meal, especially one that is high in fat. Digesting a heavy meal will divert some blood away from the heart and this can lead to chest pain and the potential for a heart attack.
  • Performing strenuous activities outdoors in the cold weather. This is because the dip in temperature causes blood vessels to constrict and therefore blood flow is diminished, especially to the heart. In people who already have blocked arteries, this can be very dangerous.

There are a few easy things that people can do to prevent heart problems during the holiday season. It is important to eat in moderation. Just because there is a lot of food being served doesn’t mean you have to be the one who eats it all. Know your alcohol consumption limitations. It is one thing to drink in moderation and quite another to drink in excess.  It is very important to dress warmly if planning on spending a lot of time outdoors. This will keep the body heat in and the blood flowing properly.

Starting the holiday season with a check-up by your physician is always a good idea, especially if you have a history of heart-related problems. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.