CLEVELAND (WJW) — Before diving into your tasty holiday feast and spiked egg nog, doctors are sending out a warning about a potential threat to your heart.
The condition is called holiday heart syndrome.
“Holiday heart syndrome is really this mix, this perfect storm of a lot of different factors that come together during the holiday season that increase our overall risk of having a heart attack,” said Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Nicholas Ruthmann.
Ruthmann said it begins when overindulging on salty foods and alcohol on a continual flow throughout the holidays.
“Families coming together, we’re bringing a lot of people from all across the country,” he said. “There’s a lot of travel involved. We eat a lot more, we drink a lot more, we exercise and kind of look out for ourselves a lot less.”
On Christmas Eve alone, doctors say there’s a 40 percent increased risk for people to have a heart attack than any other day of the year.
So when it comes to holiday heart syndrome, how do you know when to close the fridge?
Lifestyle factors such as obesity, sleep apnea, sedentary lifestyle and stress elevate the risk of irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation.
Ruthmann finds that people who do not have a pre-existing heart condition should still be cautious.
“It could really present out of the blue, and the first symptoms you may have might be on Christmas Eve with some shortness of breath or maybe some chest pain or some extra-racing heartbeats,” he said.
Bottom line, don’t pass on the mac and cheese and martinis. Just enjoy in moderation.