Great story below by WFAA’s Janet St. James about “holiday heart syndrome.” It can be very scarry if you’ve ever experienced it. But don’t forget, no chest pain or change in your heart rate should be dismissed if it persists. Even though holiday heart can resolve itself fairly quickly, it could be something more serious. And holiday heart alone can trigger a real heart attack. So here’s to drinking and eating in moderation and taking time to enjoy what matters most during the holiday season: each other’s company.
Updated Thursday, Dec 22 at 1:50 AM
But for some people, a little too much alcohol could have serious health consequences — especially too much alcohol, which can trigger a bad reaction called Holiday Heart Syndrome.
“Holiday heart syndrome is really an abnormal beat of the heart in response to alcohol,” explained Dr. Mitchell Brooks, an orthopedic surgeon in Dallas. “And it doesn’t have to be a large amount of alcohol, though it could be.”
Dr. Brooks is also happens to be a heart transplant patient. He’s raising awareness of what can be a frightening experience.
Holiday Heart Syndrome is blamed, in part, for a spike in emergency room visits during the holiday season. It causes an arrhythmia, which is when the heart beats chaotically and often much faster than normal.
If you experience the symptoms, stop drinking alcohol and sit down. The situation usually resolves on its own, but coughing and drinking cold water may reset the heart’s rhythm.
In some cases, HHS can trigger a real heart attack.
“You get very light-headed and dizzy, you can get short of breath, you can get chest pain,” Dr. Brooks said, “and the next step is speed dial 911.”
Heavy meals can compound the heart problems.
Experts say whether food or alcohol, the best way to try to avoid Holiday Heart Syndrome is to practice moderation.