How to Avoid Having a Holiday Heart Attack
Every year holidays are ruined by a true tragedy. Deaths due to heart attacks tend to increase during the holiday season. A 2004 study published in the journal “Circulation” examined 53 million death certificates from a nationwide sample, spanning the years 1973-2001. That study showed a 5% increase in heart-related deaths during the holiday season. Most of those happened on Christmas and New Year’s Day, but Thanksgiving also offers a lot of the same stresses.
Before we can decide how to stop this problem, we need to know why the increase in these deaths occurs. Unfortunately there is a lot of debate as to the root of this problem. Researchers have proposed many different theories, but in all likelihood, it’s probably a combination of everything that occurs during this period. Stress, diet, exercise and stubbornness are likely the key ingredients that lead to heart attacks during the holidays.
Here’s some ways to help keep your heart healthy during the holiday season:
Try to Avoid the Holiday Stress
Most people know there is a lot of stress involved with the holidays. Between the rushing around, traveling, shopping, and all of the financial stress associated, the holidays are sometimes more hassle than they are worth. The body is an amazing system, but in today’s environment, it is hard to find the appropriate balance.
Your Diet Impacts Your Heart’s Health
Obviously diet plays a huge role in our overall health, and especially the health of our hearts. This is a topic that gets continual coverage in every news medium. Of course the reason that it gets press is because it’s true. No time is it more true than during the holidays. Not only is there an unlimited supply of food and alcohol, but most of the food isn’t good for you.
By supplying your body with sugar and fats, and chasing it down with alcohol, you are putting yourself into a dangerous situation and at greater risk for a heart attack. The changes in blood pressure and cholesterol alone are scary. When you consider that average weight gain through the holidays can be as high as 7 pounds (depending on which study you read), your heart, along with the rest of your body, is traumatized. Over time this can be a recipe for a heart attack.
Exercise and Sleep are Important for Your Heart
The holidays are infamous for causing a time crunch. What is the first thing that most people cut out when they are more pressed for time? Exercise and sleep are the two that come to mind first, and unfortunately neither of them is a good choice to eliminate, especially with the increased stress involved with the holidays. This is likely a key contributor to the holiday weight gain.
To throw you a curve-ball, lack of exercise isn’t the only problem during the holidays though. How many of you go out and play a little football on Thanksgiving, or get stuck scooping the driveway during the months of December and January? Playing football or scooping the driveway are some of the most deadly activities, as people who are not in shape for them think they can perform these activities. In the situations that you’re put in through the holiday season, this is not a good idea.
Heart Attacks Can Feel Like Heartburn
Finally, stubbornness is something that most researchers agree plays a role in the upswing of heart-related deaths during the holidays. It is theorized that people are less likely to seek medical attention during the holiday season in fear of “ruining the holiday for everyone else.” Don’t think that all of this is machismo though, as heartburn is a common occurrence with big meals and alcohol. But what some people don’t recognize is that heart attacks can feel like heartburn and should take the appropriate actions when they feel it.
You should still enjoy your holiday season. Just make sure you’re aware of your heart’s health and what you may be genetically predisposed to. Seek medical attention if something doesn’t feel right. If you’d like help getting to a healthier weight, feel free to contact us here at Blue Tree Health. We specialize in helping people achieve their weight loss goals and transform their physical health.