Wake Forest Baptist Offers Healthy Heart Tips for the Holidays

Simple Steps Can Help Reduce Risk of Heart Attack

Released: 12/11/2013 11:30 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
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Newswise — Physicians have long recognized a “holiday bump” in the number of heart attacks at this time of year.

“It’s small, but it’s something that we notice,” said Renato Santos, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The exact reasons behind the increased number of heart attacks during the holiday season aren’t clear, but most experts agree that the most likely trigger is stress. We’re tying up loose ends at work while trying to find the best gift for everyone. We’re cooking meals for our families and making plans for holiday parties. Bottom line, we’re overloaded.

“The first thing to recognize is that holidays are always stressful,” Santos said. “You need to be able to manage that and try not to get all caught up in making everything perfect. Don’t let all the holiday activities get to you.”

“And like anything else, pace yourself.”

Santos offered these tips as people enter the holiday season:

● Hang out at the veggie tray at parties. “I’m not telling people not to eat desserts and treats, but moderation is key,” Santos said.

● Start your New Year’s resolution to exercise ahead of time; try to get in some physical activity three to five days a week. Consult with your physician on what activity may be best for you.

● If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, try to do it before the holidays hit.

If you feel any of the classic heart attack symptoms – chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting spells, indigestion that intensifies over five to 15 minutes – get help immediately by calling 911, Santos said.

“The holidays are meant for enjoyable times with family and friends,” Santos said. “Focusing on time together and these tips can be some of the best medicine for your heart.”