5 ways to avoid a post-holiday heart attack

December 27, 2018 | by Ann Davis, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

The holidays bring a tremendous amount of stress, hustle and bustle to your life. Between holiday parties, decorating, shopping for gifts and a lack of sleep, there is a lot of pressure to get several things accomplished in a short amount of time. It’s the perfect recipe for a heart attack.

It doesn’t always get easy once the holidays end either. Heart attacks continue to peak during the month of January. New research suggests changes in the season, increase for an infection and lack of sleep are the reasons for the increase. Keep your heart healthy after the holidays by following these tips:

  1. Dress in layers. Cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm. High winds, snow and rain can also affect your body heat and cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Protect your body from the cold air by limiting your exposure to the cold and wearing extra layers.
  2. Protect yourself from the flu. A flu diagnosis is associated with an increased risk for a heart attack. It’s easy to catch the flu bug during the winter when everyone is stuck inside. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot, it’s not too late to get one in January. Flu vaccines can reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke. Getting plenty of rest and practicing good hygiene can also help keep you healthy. 
  3. Don’t overeat. It’s easy to fall into hibernation mode after the holidays have ended. If you are going to eat sugary and salty foods, enjoy them in moderation. Instead of binging on leftover cookies, choose fruits and vegetables. Watch your alcohol intake too -- drinking more than three servings of alcohol per day directly increases the risk of a heart attack. 
  4. Lessen the demand on your heart. Stress can take a toll on your body. Financial stress, stress at home and at the workplace can increase your blood pressure. Exercising, sticking to a healthy diet and talking to a friend can help you cope.
  5. Stop avoiding symptoms of a heart attack. It can be easy to assume the chest pain you’re having is due to acid reflux, but symptoms of a heart attack and heartburn are two different health issues. If you’ve been ignoring any type of pain in your chest or around your upper body, or have discomfort, fatigue and shortness of breath, make an appointment with your physician.

The start of the New Year is the best time to get your health back on track. Preventing heart disease and a heart attack starts by making smart choices and continues by managing any health conditions you already have. Talk to your healthcare team to find out your risk for developing heart disease. Your healthcare team can recommend strategies for you to prevent a heart attack.

How do you keep your heart healthy? Tell us in the below comments.

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