Here’s a sure-fire way to turn holiday cheer into nightmare: have a heart attack. As it turns out, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems increase around the holidays. Research indicates that the peak days for cardiac deaths are December 25, 26 and January 1st. Here’s why:
- People postpone doctor visits around the holidays. Or they forget to take their medication as ordinary routines are disrupted.
- Winter brings about viruses with symptoms that include restriction of blood vessels.
- The holidays come with travel and annual family gatherings that can be stressful.
- Holiday meals, particularly if high in salt, can trigger cardiac problems. So can alcohol, and New Year’s Eve is sometimes the one day of the year that some drink when they are otherwise teetotalers.
Now that we’ve explored the risks, let’s discuss the warning signs of heart trouble.
- Chest pain. The discomfort can manifest itself as weight applied to the chest. Sometimes the pain is in the left arm, neck or jaw. There can also be shortness of breath.
- For women, symptoms include nausea, lightheadedness, back pain and fatigue.
- Swelling in legs, stomach bloating, dry cough and loss of appetite are also symptoms.
When in doubt, seek care. The earlier care is sought, the better the outcomes.
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