Holiday state of mind can lead to Holiday Heart

A rapid and irregular heart rhythm because of bad holiday habits

By Melanie Lawson - The Morning Show anchor
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The holidays can be both a wonderful and difficult time for people, there is so much to do and the expectations are high.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Holiday Heart is when otherwise healthy young individuals develop episodes of atrial fibrillation.  The condition causes a rapid and irregular heart rhythm.

"You never know when it's cardiogenic which means from your heart or it's from something else," says Dr. Lynn Waters, D.O. with UF Health Plantation Oaks.

Deadly heart attacks increase during the winter holiday season. One study even found distinct spikes around Christmas and New Year's Day. So Waters says if you have chest pains or palpitations you need to take action.

"If in doubt go to the hospital if you're feeling like that go to the hospital is most of the times the recommendation," say Waters

There are a number of things that can contribute. Drinking too much alcohol is one.  Sixty percent of people who binge drink will eventually have atrial fibrillation.  It's the most common form of holiday heart.  So monitor how much you drink.  Also the stress of losing a loved one compiled with the holidays is another risk.

"There's a lot of stress even for people who have lost loved ones and heart disease that is associated with severe grief," says Waters.

Waters says you can't ignore your health and that even simple changes in your daily habits can have an affect on your heart.

"If you're drinking too much coffee, if you put stress on yourself to find the perfect gift and you're drinking too much coffee it can lead to that," says Waters.

He reminds people just because of the holidays you can't just forget about living a healthy life or you could spend some unnecessary time in the ER.