The Holidays and Heart Attack Risk: Here is What You Need to Know.

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Happy Holidays!! Eat, drink, and be merry, right?

The holiday season is a special time to share love and appreciation for everyone in your life; however, there seems to be an interesting increase in cardiac problems around this time of year. No surprise there when you think about the stress and contributing factors which could increase your chances of a cardiac episode. Let’s zoom out and look at the overall picture.

Contributing Factors to Heart Attacks During the Holidays

Stress

We know how detrimental stress is to our health (increasing blood pressure, inflammation, lowering immunity, etc.). It definitely increases during the holiday season with the added pressures of shopping, making time to see everyone, and getting along with those with whom you may not normally interact. Stress also disrupts sleep and lack of sleep is damaging to our health.

Food

The holiday season is a time when we break out grandma’s recipes and overindulge in foods we normally don’t eat throughout the year. Make no mistake, I’m here to enjoy the holidays and love the traditions, but we recommend using healthy, organic ingredients and sticking with Paleo. Overindulging in multiple meals can actually be a stress on your body as well. If your body is not accustomed to digesting and processing foods out of the norm, then digestive upset may occur, which is another stressor on the body.

Alcohol

Alcohol is inflammatory. There’s no getting around that and we know moderation is key. Again, not wanting to bring down the holiday-vibe, but there are better options than drinking a 6-pack of beer or hard liquor. Small amounts of red wine may actually have some health benefits, but quality is a HUGE factor. Avoiding chemicals, pesticides, and added sugar in conventional wines will help you avoid some of the unpleasant repercussions of consuming alcohol. Check out Dry Farm Wines for quality libations to keep you in the holiday spirit.

Cold Weather

Cold weather constricts blood vessels, which may increase blood pressure. Combine this with being sedentary, overindulging, and shoveling snow after a storm, and you may create the perfect recipe for a heart attack.

Interestingly, there are some parts of the country where it doesn’t snow, yet there is still an increased risk of a cardiac episode. Why? Lower vitamin D levels. For most people, winter means less sunshine and layers of clothes to stay warm. Combine that with staying inside around lots of people, and you may be more prone to viruses and bacteria. The stress on the body having to fire up the immune system is enough to send the heart over the edge.

Recommendations to Avoid Holiday Heart Attacks

  • Make excellent choices.
    • Avoid excess drinking, eating unhealthy foods and all the refined sugar that comes with most holiday goodies. Strive to stick to healthy, organic Paleo foods. Heavy drinking can cause irregular heartbeats (called atrial fibrillation), which dramatically increases the risk of a cardiovascular event.
  • Get sunshine.
    • We know the sun is a rare commodity in the winter. Try to find it, no matter what the temperature is outside. Best advice… go on vacation to a sunny location. And if you absolutely cannot get sunshine, consider a Sperti Vitamin D lamp.
  • Sleep.
    • Our ancestors went to sleep with the sundown and awoke with the sunrise. We realize this may be an incredibly early bedtime, but you’ll be surprised at how good you feel if you get into this habit.
  • Stay active.
    • Bundle up if necessary but walk OUTSIDE daily. Get sunshine when possible, even if only on your face. Do body weight exercises in your home.
  • Wear layers.
  • Stay within your limits.
    • Steer clear of things you haven’t been doing, like over-exerting yourself by shoveling snow (especially if you haven’t been exercising and are out of shape), loading yourself full of sugar cookies, or fighting with the relatives you haven’t seen in a year.
  • Avoid the flu vaccine et al.
    • Although infections and fevers can compromise the heart, the flu vaccine does not work, and it weakens your immune system. Your immune system is your body’s defense mechanism against infections and fevers. You want it to be strong and healthy.
  • Spend within your limits.
    • Financial pressures around the holidays create stress. Don’t strain your finances and create stress with holiday gift-giving.
  • Take nutritional supplements.

Get help – If you feel you are having a heart attack, irregular heartbeat, chest pain or any sign of a cardiovascular event, seek treatment immediately.

Keep in mind that cardiovascular events don’t just suddenly occur. The best way to avoid a heart attack during the holidays is by following healthy living practices year-round. Talk to one of our health coaches today. The first consultation is FREE!

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