Heart Healthy Holidays - Avoid "Holiday Heart Syndrome" - Learn Strategies to Enjoy the Holidays and Stay Healthy

The holiday season is a joyous time of year, but it can also be tough on your health. The added demands of planning family dinners, shopping, and parties can increase stress and provide plenty of opportunities to overindulge. People with underlying heart disease—and even  those without it—can be at increased risk for serious health consequences.

The term “holiday heart syndrome” was originally coined by physicians in the 1970s to describe irregular heart rhythms that occurred after periods of heavy alcohol consumption during the holiday season. Now, however, “holiday heart syndrome” is used to describe effects on the heart from other overindulgences, such as overeating and over-caffeinating, as well as increased stress. In fact, a recent study found that heart attack risk spiked 15 percent during the holiday season.

A good strategy for avoiding heart complications during the holidays—and all year long—is to practice moderation and take time to de-stress. Here are three tips to help you stay healthy through the holidays: 

  1. Avoid overeating by paying attention to serving sizes and eating a healthy snack before attending a party.
  2. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. Increased alcohol consumption affects heart health and too much caffeine can increase your heart rate.
  3. Take five deep breaths or set aside 10 minutes of quiet time to decompress if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.