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Have a heart healthy holiday

Have a heart healthy holiday

While the holidays can fill our hearts with joy, the added stress and overindulgence that comes with it can increase the risk for heart attack.

Studies show the incidence of heart-related deaths is higher during the winter holidays. In addition to stress, other holiday bad habits such as unhealthy eating, lack of exercise and overindulging on alcohol can increase the chances of a cardiovascular event for those already at risk. Overexertion from physical activities such as shoveling snow can also play a role.

So, if a heart attack is not on your holiday wish list this year, take heed to these tips to keep your heart healthy.

Don’t eat your heart out. Limit salty, fatty foods, sugary desserts and alcohol. In general, don’t eat to the point where you wish you were wearing elastic-waist pants.

Do chill out. The holidays can conjure lots of emotions – both good and bad. If being around family and friends causes excessive anxiety, frustration and anger, keep your distance to help keep your cool.

Get a flu shot. Infection and fever put extra stress on the heart.

Hire the neighbor kid to shovel your snow. If you aren’t in great physical condition, consider hiring help to clear your snow. When it’s cold out, arteries clamp down and blood pressure can go up putting extra stress on your heart.

Put your health first. Don’t postpone treatments or appointments because you don’t want to spoil the holidays. And if you feel chest pain or other symptoms, call 911 for emergency help.

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About the Author

Dr. Azmey Matarieh
Dr. Azmey Matarieh

Azmey Matarieh MD is a cardiologist with Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate Sherman Hospital.