It’s the most wonderful time of the year unless your receive the gift of a Merry Christmas Coronary! Take it off your list!  If you find yourself quoting Scrooge with a loud, “Bah Humbug,” it’s time to turn things around and enjoy this season of celebration.

My number one tip for the holiday season is to pay attention to your overall health. According to a research article in the Journal, Circulation, Christmas and New Year’s are peak periods for increased cardiac deaths during the holiday season. The researchers think this has to do with the changes in diet and alcohol consumption. During the holidays, people tend to gain weight while consuming more fatty meals and take in more salt–both factors that can stress an already weakened heart.

In looking at death certificates during the holiday season, the researchers also suspect that increased emotional stress plays a role as well. The holidays often force us to interact with family and relatives we may not want to be with normally. And financial pressures heighten given the purchasing of gifts, travel, entertaining and decorating costs.

Burning wood in a fire place may also play a role as this can prompt respiratory issues due to releasing toxic material into the air, and airborne pollutants that have been associated with an increase in cardiac events and blood pressures rising.

And if you have a cardiac event, chances are greater that your regular doctors will be on vacation and care will be given by those less familiar with your on-going health concerns. Even when you doctor may work the holiday shifts, many of us are hesitant to see a doctor during the holidays thinking I can get through this and don’t need medical attention.

Finally, colder weather can lead to increased vascular resistance, coronary spasm, hemostasis and throbs formation. Add the decreased hours of daylight possibly impacting mood and stress rises.

Since we don’t know exactly what is causing this rise in coronary problems, it makes sense to do a few things to possibly prevent a Merry Christmas Coronary.

  1. If you have cardiac symptoms, don’t delay and go for help.
  2. Know the triggers for cardiac events such as over physical exertion of shoveling snow.
  3. Watch your diet to avoid overeating, excess salt and alcohol. Alcohol can bring on arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation often referred to as the “holiday heart syndrome.”
  4. Avoid inhaling smoke from wood burning fire places.
  5. Manage your emotional stress and take time-outs to clear your head and set healthy expectations.

Let’s not add a Merry Christmas Coronary to our gift list!

Festive stress: from merry to unmerry Christmas

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