How to avoid ‘holiday heart syndrome’

Health Minute: Holiday heart syndrome

(CNN) – Overindulging during the holiday season isn’t just bad for your waistline – it can also be bad for your heart.

“Holiday heart syndrome” sounds like something brought on by missing family and friends this time of year, but it actually has to do with your diet.

The holiday season is known for enticing even the strictest eater to indulge. Buffets, festive sugary treats and endless amounts of alcohol are around every corner.

Doctors say that can be trouble for your heart.

“Holiday heart syndrome” was coined in 1978 to describe the dramatic increase in patients going to the emergency room complaining of irregular heart rhythms during the holidays.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a racing or irregular heartbeat.

The “fluttering” feeling often comes with other symptoms like lightheadedness or shortness of breath.

Cardiac specialists believe excessive alcohol consumption this time of year can increase the risk for AFib. Add to that salty, fatty foods, holiday stress, and not enough sleep, and it can become the perfect storm.

Experts say taking simple steps will help you avoid holiday heart syndrome.

Be conscious of how much alcohol you’re drinking, and make sure you stay hydrated. Limit salty snacks. Keep up with your exercise and sleep routines.

These things will help you enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

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