The holidays are sold as a magical time for family and friends. But they can also be very hard on your heart.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are more heart attacks in the United States between Christmas and New Year’s Day than at any other time of the year.
The holidays can be busy, stressful, and can cause a major disruption to routine. People tend to eat and drink more, get less exercise, feel additional stress, and may not pay as close attention to their overall health or signs from their bodies.
And because so many people followed COVID-19 protocols last year, they may be at greater risk this year for heart troubles. Some may get too worked up and try to give a little extra, for example.
The AHA recently released its holiday guidelines for holiday heart health. Sticking to them may help reduce the risk for a heart attack and help you get the most from the season.
- Know the Warning Signs: It is essential to be able to recognize the signs of a heart attack. The most common symptom is chest pain, but women may also experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. If one of those symptoms appears, call 911 immediately.
- Moderation: Try not to drink too much or lose control of food. Save big meals and drinks for a special meal, while trying to eat healthily and avoid alcohol the majority of the time. Pay attention to sodium intake and try to snack mainly on healthier items like roasted nuts and fruit.
- Manage Stress: If you have a family member that stresses you out, try to avoid them as best you can. If possible, avoid alone time and sit at the other end of the table. Focus on the things and people you enjoy, instead. Other additional seasonal stressors can include travel, finances, and scheduling. You can limit these stressors by sticking to a budget, travelling early, and capping commitments.
- Exercise: Try and get out for a walk or another form of exercise each day during the holidays. Finding any kind of fun activity can help reduce stress and promote heart health.
- Stick to Health Routine: Any medications, treatments, or other routines that you have should all be maintained regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.