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Expert offers advice to help you avoid the dangers of ‘holiday heart’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The hustle and bustle of the holidays can bring unexpected medical concerns, including increased risk for heart attack and stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Several studies have shown that the incidence of heart attack and stroke increase in December and January, particularly on Christmas Day and New Year's Day

The holiday season is a time of celebration and excess, but too much salt, caffeine and alcohol can lead to a little-known condition called "holiday heart" that can have drastic consequences.

"Holiday heart" may sound like another joyous part of the holiday season.

In the cardiology world, "holiday heart" actually refers to this effect of the stress of too much alcohol, too much salt, higher blood pressure on the heart.

All that stress on the heart can cause an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation.

For some people, it feels like their heart is racing out of their chest. Their heart is just beating vigorously.

For other folks, they just feel some irregularity -- tired, short of breath, just wiped out, no energy. It's important to note that, atrial fibrillation can lead to a stroke.

The best way to avoid "holiday heart" is to avoid the excesses that are so prevalent during the holidays.

That doesn't mean you have to skip a holiday party. Just skip some of the booze, cups of coffee and adding salt on your food.

To minimize the risk of an unexpected visit to the emergency room, Mayo Clinic offers these tips:

  • Reduce stress.
  • Eat and drink in moderation.
  • Be vigilant with medication.
  • Exercise -- and get rest.
  • Know the symptoms for heart attack and stroke, and don't delay in seeking medical attention.

Taking time to be mindful of stress and the triggers of heart attack and stroke can hopefully help safeguard an enjoyable and pleasant holiday season.


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