By Sunil Gupta, MD FACC
Premier Heart and Vascular Center, Zephyrhills
Heart attacks are a common medical emergency today, and they are an even bigger issue when the holidays come. A combination of cold weather, a suddenly sedentary lifestyle and over-indulgence in food and often alcohol all lead to the common spike in the number of heart attacks over the winter holiday season.
With that in mind, we already discussed in our previous blog posts:
- What the symptoms of heart attacks are so you can watch out for them
- The most common causes of these holiday heart attacks
- The available treatment options for heart attacks
Now, it’s time to discuss ways you can protect yourself from experiencing a holiday heart attack.
How to Prevent a Holiday Heart Attack
Avoid stress as much as you can.
As you probably already know, increased stress levels can lead to an eventual heart attack. So it’s vital to manage emotional stress and anger, even though it’s very common during the holidays.
Additionally, you should also avoid physically exerting yourself too much. If you have to do something strenuous, get some help to get it done quickly. Remember, physical exertion during the holidays is one of the possible heart attack causes only because we all tend to lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle in the winter.
Dress warmly and avoid staying out in the cold for too long.
Cold temperatures are known triggers of heart attacks in the winter. That’s why it’s vital to dress warmly and avoid staying outside for too long—if you’re not in balmy Florida.
Eat responsibly and avoid excess salt and alcohol.
This may be the most important advice we can give you for a holiday. You mustn’t over-indulge in food and alcohol, as that can lead to a heart attack faster than most people expect.
For example, binge drinking can lead to atrial fibrillation. It’s an abnormal rhythm of the heart that tends to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
All in all, indulge responsibly during the holidays!
Avoid smoke as much as you can.
Air pollution is a noticeable risk for heart attack. That’s why it’s vital to avoid sitting too close to the fireplace or staying outside during an air pollution alert. What’s more, smoking brings an even larger risk for a heart attack than excessive drinking. It’s vital to avoid tobacco smoke. And if you’re a smoker yourself, consider quitting or at least lowering the number of cigarettes you smoke during the holidays.
Don’t fall into a sedentary lifestyle over winter. Try to stay as active as you can. There are plenty of winter sports you can undertake, and there are also exercises to do indoors. Plus, there’s yoga.
Physical activity is vital in heart attack prevention, and it also reduces stress.
The Bottom Line
All in all, our advice boils down to staying healthy, active and avoiding over-indulgence to prevent the dreaded holiday heart attack.
If you want to know more, feel free to contact us.