By Shiwani Mahajan
We all love the holiday season. The snow, the Christmas trees, the Hanukkah lights, and days off of work. It gives us an excuse to be lazy, gorge on a few extra pies, and indulge in wine, all guilt-free. It may come as a surprise, but your heart doesn’t know it’s the holiday season. Oblivious to what we are putting our bodies through, we end up over-eating and over-drinking our way into the new year. Everyone is guilty of consuming high-calorie foods and alcohol and skipping their exercise routine.
That being said, did you know that the number of heart attacks peak around the holiday season? Research shows that the number of deaths due to cardiac causes is higher on December 25 than on any other day of the year. Unhealthy lifestyle profoundly increases the stress on your heart. The harsh cold weather does not help either. It constricts the blood vessels, which increases your blood pressure and can increase your chances of getting a stroke or a heart attack. Also, most people ignore their symptoms during the holidays and tend to delay seeking help until afterwards.
Every system in our body works in harmony with the others. This little holiday escapade is especially bad for your liver and pancreas, along with your heart. Your circadian rhythm, or biological time clock, may change in a relatively short period of time with late night partying and sleeping through the morning.
Fortunately, there are ways to have lots of fun while taking care of your health. Here’s how you can help protect your heart this holiday season:
- Avoid excess salt in your food as it may raise your blood pressure
- Stay away from sugars and fats as much as possible, especially if you a have history of heart disease
- Stay warm and toasty! Avoid exposure to extreme cold
- A morning walk can do wonders for you, fixing your internal clock and by helping your body fight off that extra grease on your food from last night.
- Hold that drink! Lay off the booze whenever you can help it… it adds up!
- Do not let your body be a second priority: listen to it and do not ignore the warning signs.
It’s time for those New Year’s resolutions again, I am sure you won’t let yourself down. Food for thought?
If you have questions about your heart health, click here to ask us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Shiwani Mahajan, MBBS is a post-graduate associate at Yale School of Medicine in the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.