Heart-healthy habits for a happy holiday – Ponte Vedra Recorder

Heart-healthy habits for a happy holiday – Ponte Vedra Recorder

By Anthony Magnano, M.D., Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but unfortunately some of our holiday habits can pose increased risk for our hearts. Research from the American Heart Association has shown a spike in cardiac events during the holiday season, with more people dying from heart attacks between Christmas and New Year’s than any other time.

While there are always more errands to run, parties to go to and foods to enjoy this time of year, make it a priority to protect your heart. By preparing a few healthy habits, you can reduce your risk for conditions like heart attack, arrhythmias, heart valve disease and stroke. Here’s how you can keep your heart happy and healthy throughout the holidays and beyond.

Know the Signs and Don’t Delay Care

During such a busy time of year, it can be easy to dismiss early warning signs of a heart condition or think that a check-up can wait until after the holiday. No one wants to miss out on holiday fun or family time, but sometimes delay can cause heart damage to increase. That’s why it’s crucial to know the signs of emergency cardiac events like heart attack or stroke and take action at the first sign.

For stroke, remember the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T. That stands for loss of balance, eyes (loss of vision), face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911. Chest discomfort is the primary sign of heart attack, though it may present as more of a dull, heavy pressure or even be absent altogether. Additional symptoms of heart attack include shortness of breath and aches in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach as well as other parts of the upper body. If you are in any sort of distress, such as severe respiratory difficulty or severe lightheadedness, call 911 for help. The sooner you seek medical attention, the better your outcome will be.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

It may be tempting to indulge over the holidays, but consuming large amounts of food high in saturated and trans-fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars can put your heart at risk. The few extra pounds gained over the holiday year after year could have a lasting effect. Obesity is a known risk factor for heart attacks. One tip I always suggest is that before you put food on your plate, analyze the spread and choose which foods you will eat or skip. Remember, everything in moderation. You can still enjoy your favorite holiday food while eating smart.

It’s also important to be aware of a condition that doctors call “Holiday Heart Syndrome.” Binging on alcohol can lead to palpitations, irregular heartbeats and even atrial fibrillation in otherwise healthy individuals. Listen to your body and stay aware of any unusual symptoms you may experience, especially after a big meal. Call your doctor and get medical care right away if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Stick to Your Meds

The holidays get busy, and people often forget to get prescription refills or bring their medicines when staying with family. …….

Source: https://pontevedrarecorder.com/stories/heart-healthy-habits-for-a-happy-holiday,15130

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