Keep the Beat: Heart Health During the Holidays

Second of a two-part series

Part One of Keep the Beat: Heart Health During the Holidays offered information about factors that contribute to heart attacks during the holidays.  Part Two focuses on prevention and minimizing risks.

Heart attack risk is higher for people who’ve had a previous heart attack and those who have cardiac conditions, such as irregular heart beats and high blood pressure. But many “Christmas Coronary” patients are people who don’t realize they are at risk.

Minimize Risks

With prevention and moderation, it’s possible to enjoy the holidays and stay heart healthy, according to Otto Vega, M.D., medical director of emergency services at Homestead Hospital.  He offers these risk-reducing tips:

  • Get medication refills in advance so you don’t have to hassle with them during the hectic holiday rush.
  • Keep a regular workout routine; don’t embark on a drastic “pre-holiday” workout.  Moderation is vital, even for exercise.
  • Listen to your body.  Several signs of a heart attack can mimic how people can feel after eating a big meal or rushing around, such as shortness of breath or chest pains.  “It’s important to pay attention to any unusual symptoms, especially if you have other medical conditions,” Dr. Vega said.
  • Look out for friends and family members.  In addition to existing cardiac patients, older people and diabetics also are at higher risk of heart attack, according to Dr. Vega. “Diabetics may have nerve damage that prevents them from feeling pain, for example,” he added.
  • Get prompt medical care. “If you’re having a heart attack, studies show that any delay in treatment can decrease survival rate,” said Dr. Vega. “It is possible to survive after a delay in care of one-to-two days, but the outcome is likely to be less than optimal.”
  • So how do you know if physical discomfort during the holidays means something serious versus your heart “skipping a beat” after unwrapping a surprisingly stunning gift?

    “Moderation is key,” Dr. Vega said. “Don’t make any drastic changes to your habits during the holidays. Only you know best when your body is trying to tell you something is wrong. If you feel things that aren’t normal for you, call your doctor or 911.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

    Keep the Beat: Heart Health During the Holidays, Part One
    Holiday shoppers pack stores during the year-end rush. Another place that experiences more visitors than normal is the emergency room (ER). Why?  Read full article…

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