Holidays are a time when we eat, drink and be merry a lot. But overdoing it during the holidays can lead to a condition known as holiday heart syndrome. What is it and what can be done to avoid it?
“The end of the year, which is always full of celebrations and parties, is also a busy time in the pharmacy – customers want to buy vitamins to be able to cope with the upcoming workload, preparations for improving the condition of the skin and hair, fiber-based medicines that help control body weight and, finally, also medicines for indigestion. This range of top purchases shows well what interests us during the anniversary celebrations and holidays,” says Linda Fevraleva, pharmacist of “Mēnes Aptiekas”, and immediately emphasizes that at the same time, you should also think about the heart, which will have to take the biggest load in the overabundance of events.
“While it’s perfectly normal to indulge a little, be careful not to go too far and end up with holiday heart syndrome. Medically, this condition is referred to as acute toxic myocarditis, which can occur in case of excessive alcohol and gluttonous food intake,” explains Inga Orleāne, general practitioner of the “Health Centers Association” and specialist in the ECG method.
What is holiday heart syndrome
One of the most important signs of acute toxic myocarditis is atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, associated with excessive consumption of food and alcohol over a concentrated period of time. Although it can happen at any time, the most common period is during the end of the year holidays, when the holidays are at their most saturated and we become indiscriminate in our choices about what we “stuff” into our stomachs.
Holiday heart syndrome can affect anyone, but those with pre-existing heart problems are at greater risk. Over time, they can lead to more serious complications, such as heart failure and stroke.
How does holiday heart syndrome manifest itself?
Its symptoms are the same as in atrial fibrillation.
You can feel:
• lack of energy or fatigue that is more pronounced than usual on holidays;
• discomfort in the chest area – this can manifest as pain or pressure in the chest;
• dizziness and feeling like you might pass out;
• Palpitations – it feels like you can hear your heart pounding in your chest;
• Difficulty breathing – it is more difficult to breathe during daily activities, it is possible to have difficulty breathing even at rest.
How is the syndrome treated?
It depends on the general state of health – the therapy will be determined accordingly, but first the doctor will advise you to give up alcohol completely. Research shows that drinking less than 80 milligrams of alcohol per day can reduce the risk of “holiday heart syndrome.”
Is it possible to avoid holiday heart syndrome?
Yes! And that doesn’t necessarily mean sitting around with a glass of water while everyone else is having fun.
Here are some tips for a healthy vacation!
Eat and drink in moderation. If you go to a party in the evening, eat less for breakfast and lunch. Or eat a full, healthy meal right before the event so you’re less tempted to overdo it. Instead of cutting off a huge slice of the housewife’s famous cake, take a smaller piece, eat more slowly and savor each bite. Sip one cocktail all evening, instead of reaching for the second, third, fifth.
Do not stop physical activity. Stick to your regular exercise routine – holidays are no reason to stop your activities. If you take care of your health even during long holidays, you will be less likely to develop permanent heart problems.
Try to keep calm. During the holidays, sometimes you have to feel extra stress. This is normal, but don’t let it get out of hand. Allow time for relaxation from the hustle and bustle and simple, routine activities. It can help improve heart health.
Be careful with medications. After a night of revelry with alcohol consumption, it is not uncommon to want to resort to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the symptoms of a hangover or toxicosis. However, these drugs can cause even more stress on the heart – raising blood pressure and causing the risk of heart problems.
Let’s welcome the new year not with holiday heart syndrome, but with true holiday joy in our hearts!