Avoiding a heart attack during the holidays

Published 8:40 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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More people have heart attacks in December and January than at any other time of the year due to excessive alcohol, lack of exercise and food overconsumption – all hallmarks of the holiday season.

The holidays are also accompanied by high levels of stress and depression which can also lead to an increased risk of cardiac events. To help reduce stress and improve mood, exercise such as a morning walk or jog can be a good way to help prevent a health scare.

Additionally, it’s important to remember to eat, drink and be merry – in moderation. While moderate alcohol intake appears to protect the heart, repeated overindulgence poses a direct and immediate threat to the heart. Plus, all those high-fat and salty foods not only raise the long-term dangers of obesity and high blood pressure but can also increase the immediate likelihood of a heart attack.

An episode of chest discomfort can sometimes be attributed to indigestion, but that missed trip to the hospital can sometimes be fatal. Know the signs of a heart attack, and call 911 if you or someone you know has one or more symptoms. Heart attack symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing, anxiety, perfuse sweating and nausea. Women often have little or no chest pain with a heart attack. Instead, they tend to experience unusual fatigue, difficulty sleeping and shortness of breath that may precede the heart attack by as long as a month. Out-of-towners can be especially reluctant to go to an unfamiliar hospital or doctor. Don’t delay.

To help you stay on track over the holidays eat and drink moderately, don’t let minor things stress you out and continue to exercise during the holidays. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease and depression/psychological stress. If you find yourself depressed, tell somebody and get help.

Don’t ignore symptoms that may indicate a heart attack — hospitals appreciate false alarms over mortalities. In a single year, more than 5.2 million people visited U.S. hospital emergency rooms for symptoms related to the nervous system.


To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Ochsner Health Center – River Parishes, 502 Rue de Santé, LaPlace, please call 985-652-3500 or schedule online at www.ochsner.org.