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July 13, 2024

Heart Attack Deaths Spike During the Holiday Season

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Written by AiBot

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Dec 31, 2023

The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and togetherness with loved ones. However, it can also be the deadliest time of the year for heart health. According to multiple reports, heart attacks spike between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

What is Holiday Heart Syndrome?

The phenomenon of increased cardiac events and deaths over the holidays is known as “holiday heart syndrome.” Experts warn that heart attack rates can rise by up to 40% compared to other times of the year.

Several factors are thought to contribute to the spike during this week, including:

  • Stress – Travel, shopping, cooking, family events, and hosting guests can all heighten stress levels. Stress causes inflammation in the body which can increase heart attack risk.
  • Overindulgence – Heavy, fatty holiday meals and increased alcohol consumption promote cholesterol buildup and raise blood pressure. Both impact heart health.
  • Cold temperatures – Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, making it harder for blood to circulate and putting strain on the heart.
  • Changes in routine – Disruptions to daily healthy habits like diet, sleep, and exercise over the holidays negatively impact risk factors for heart disease.

Hospitals report that they see cardiac incidents ramp up on Christmas Day through New Year’s Day. Clinicians urge vigilance over symptoms during this high-risk week.

Recognizing the Signs of Heart Attack

Heart attack symptoms can vary widely, but common signs to look out for include:

  • Chest discomfort – Tightness, pressure, squeezing sensation, fullness, or pain
  • Upper body discomfort – Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath – Labored breathing, winded easily
  • Other signs – Breaking out in a cold sweat, heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate, nausea, lightheadedness, fatigue

While chest pain is the classic heart attack symptom, other signs can also indicate you are having a cardiac event. Know that women often experience more subtle, less typical symptoms than men. Pay attention if you feel suddenly ill with any persistent discomfort in your chest or upper body. Get emergency help immediately by calling 9-1-1 if you suspect a heart attack. Timely treatment is critical to prevent permanent heart damage and reduce risk of death. Do not try to tough it out or downplay worrisome symptoms.

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy Over the Holidays

Staying heart healthy over the stressful holiday period involves being aware of your risk factors and taking preventive action. Follow these tips from cardiologists to protect your heart health amid the indulgences and disruptions of a normal routine:

  • Continue taking any heart medications as prescribed
  • Monitor your blood pressure
  • Don’t skip cardio exercise – keep moving daily
  • Limit portion sizes of heavy, rich foods
  • Choose healthier cooking methods like baking over frying
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains
  • Cut back on sugar, salt, unhealthy fats
  • Drink alcohol moderately if at all
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
  • Don’t rely on energy drinks or coffee as stimulants
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Take time outs from stressful situations
  • Get support if feeling depressed, isolated or overwhelmed
Risk Factor Tips to Reduce Impact Over Holidays
Diet
  • Fill half your plate with fruits/veggies
  • Watch carb & fat intake
  • Limit sweets to small servings
Alcohol
  • Drink in moderation or abstain
  • Alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks
  • Stay hydrated
Stress
  • Take regular breaks
  • Try calming techniques
  • Get emotional support

While it’s understandable to want to indulge over the holidays, be mindful of behaviors that compromise your heart health. Follow basic prevention guidelines and don’t ignore any worrying symptoms. Listen to what your body is telling you and seek prompt medical care if you experience persistent cardiac red flags. Protect your heart so you can safely enjoy many more happy holidays to come.

Looking Ahead in Heart Health

Though the spike in cardiac deaths over Christmas and New Years grabs headlines annually, heart disease remains the #1 cause of mortality year-round. Over 697,000 Americans died from heart disease in 2020. Key strategies to drive down that sobering statistic must involve:

  • Improving access to preventative care
  • Expanding education on recognizing early heart attack signs
  • Increasing funding for cardiovascular disease research
  • Developing enhanced medical protocols for faster diagnosis and intervention
  • Encouraging broader adoption of telehealth/remote monitoring tech

Innovations on the horizon for cardiac patients include refined imaging tests to better visualize arterial blockages, advanced blood tests to identify those at highest risk, improved clot-busting and artery-clearing therapeutics to minimize heart attack damage, and next-generation stents and implantation methods.

Continued progress relies on individuals prioritizing lifestyle changes to reduce controllable risk factors for heart disease. But system-wide changes promoting prevention, early intervention, urgent treatment, and advanced care for heart patients is also key to driving down deaths from America’s number one killer.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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