Christmas Heart Syndrome: Symptoms, people at risk, tips to keep heart healthy | Health

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

The food is rich, the exercise is briefly suspended and as Christmas and New Year arrive, alcohol consumption is more during the week than your regular sober levels. Scientific research over time has shown an uptick in cardiac events during the winter holiday season and more people die from heart attacks between December 25 and January 1 than at any other time of the year.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ramakanta Panda, cardiac surgeon and head of Asian Heart Institute, shared, “The opportunities that test your willpower around food and alcohol are plentiful during Christmas and New Year. The holidays are a busy, often stressful time. Routines are disrupted, people forget medications and tend to eat and drink more, sleep less, sleep late as well as exercise less. We also may not be listening to our bodies or paying attention to warning signs, thinking it can wait until after the new year to take medical advice or help.”

He instructed, “It is important to reduce stress from family interactions, strained finances, hectic schedules and other stressors that tack on this time of year, including travelling. While it’s fine to indulge a little bit, all that excess can have an effect on your health. Overeating of oily, salty and fried food along with late night sleep and active or passive smoking during festivals can exacerbate multiple heart problems including unstable angina, heart attacks and heart to beat irregularly, a condition known as atrial fibrillation (AFib) which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

He advised to look for following symptoms:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or feeling tired
  • Sudden sensation, fluttering and discomfort in chest
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision

According to him, a few people are required to be more cautious; especially those with pre-existing conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure – Consult your doctor beforehand to maintain electrolyte balance in your body. Too much of sugar and salt can lead to high blood sugar and blood pressure levels which can lead to heart attack and strokes. Instead of high-calorie and processed food prefer fruits and whole grains.
  • Diabetes and heart health – Aerated drinks and fruit juice contain high amounts of sugar leading to high heart-risks. Substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners to reduce the risk.
  • Stress – Disturbed sleep patterns can increase stress levels. It is important to take 7-8 hours of sleep even during celebrations and sleep early.

He recommended a few important tips to keep your heart-healthy during the festivities:

  • Be active – Even during the celebrations, take out time for physical activities.
  • Stay hydrated – Do not consume too much of processed juices and aerated drinks and drink adequate water.
  • Medications – Take prescribed medicines on time to avoid blood pressure, sugar and heart issues.
  • Do not overeat – Eat salad before saviories to avoid overeating.
  • Avoid stress – Take adequate sleep and stay away from loud noises.
  • No smoking and drinking – Avoid alcohol and smoking consumption as it can raise your blood pressure , diabetes to unhealthy levels.

“Researchers have known about holiday heart syndrome since the late 1970s. Consumerism and easy availability of harmful foods and alcohol have only made things worse. ‘Everything in moderation’ is a good rule to follow. The holiday heart syndrome is completely preventable and in your hands. So take care of your body and be disciplined,” Dr Panda concluded.

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