Learning how to avoid heart attacks during Christmas is essential if you are in that category of people who are particularly susceptible to feeling stress or experiencing issues with your heart.
After all, the holiday season can be packed with everything from unending to-do lists, travelling, family visits, festive meals and financial concerns. For many people with heart conditions, it can be hard to stay on track with such increased holiday pressures when it comes to health. These changes and stressors can lead to extreme variations in blood pressure. In turn, that can increase the risk for heart attacks. A heart attack happens when the heart muscle is not getting enough blood. So you are lucky if you get some help from someone who has completed CPR training.
Recent Research shows that more heart attacks and heart-related deaths occur during December and January. This article will provide you with tips on how to avoid a heart attack during the holiday season.
Avoid Heart Attacks With These Tips
These small steps can make all the difference.
Changes in eating and drinking habits
It can be hard to eat healthily during a festive season filled with rich foods and sweet treats. Many people tend to change their eating and drinking habits by overindulging on:
- Fatty foods: These can have adverse effects on the inner lining of the blood vessels
- Increased salt intake: This increases blood pressure and puts extra stress on a weakened heart.
- Excess alcohol intake: This can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure and damage to the heart muscle, which increases the risk of heart failure, stroke and heart attack.
- Overeating: The flow of blood is diverted away from the heart to help in digestion, this can cause angina..
When you have an underlying heart condition, you should make sure to include healthy meals in your diet and avoid excess salt and excess alcohol consumption.
There’s a lot of emotion attached to the holiday season due to the increased interaction with family and friends. The obligation of having to interact with family members whom you may or may not want to meet with, and financial pressures (prepping holiday food, purchasing gifts, decorations, travel expenses, entertainment), can make people feel emotionally stressed. Emotional stress increases the risk of heart attacks.
If you have heart disease, you should steer clear of heart stressors such as anger and emotional stress. You should manage your emotional stress by – for example – taking a deep breath, meditating and exercising. If you are visiting family and friends during the holiday season, it may be a good time for you to talk about your health. Your loved ones can also help you avoid heart attacks at this time of the year.
For many, the holiday season can be a time of cheer with family and friends, but for some who are lonely and isolated, it can be a time of sadness, especially with memories of the past Christmases. Social loneliness is associated with increased risk of heart attack and strokes because it makes it harder for a person to keep up with heart-healthy habits.
Don’t live in isolation and loneliness. If it’s only you during the holiday season, turn to friends and neighbours for support; also, find ways to support others, such as volunteering.
Delay In Seeking Medical Care
Some people delay seeking necessary treatment during holiday seasons because they don’t want to interrupt Christmas and New Year festivities. They tend to wait until after the holiday season and this increases the risk of heart attacks.
If you don’t feel right or show any heart-related signs and symptoms, do not postpone treatment during the holiday festivities. Seek medical treatment sooner rather later.
Keeping track and taking medications as prescribed can get lost in the holiday season shuffle. Missing medications can cause your blood pressure to be out of control.
If you take medication to manage your heart health, you should continue taking your medication at your regular times as prescribed during the holiday season. This is a simple routine that will help you avoid heart attacks.
In cold temperatures, the heart works harder to maintain body heat. Therefore, heart rate and blood pressure may increase. On top of that, blood vessels can constrict, which restricts blood flow and reduces the oxygen supply to the heart. These factors could trigger a heart attack, especially in the elderly or those with existing heart disease.
If you have existing heart disease, you should avoid exposure to severely cold temperatures. You should have regular hot meals and drinks to give your body the energy it needs to keep you warm. In addition, wrap yourself in layers of warm clothing when going outside.
During holiday seasons, people tend to exercise less, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
You should maintain your exercise routine or try to stay active during the holiday season. For example, instead of sitting down while catching up, consider taking a walk in a local park. This is good for your heart muscles and your general health and wellbeing.
Stay Healthy This Christmas
Knowing and following the right steps can help you avoid heart attacks and strokes. During the holiday winter months, take care of yourself.
For greater insight into interacting with those suffering from the issues mentioned in the article or if you would like to chat with others affected, I highly recommend joining the app, Reachout.
Lydia Nabwami is a mother of two beautiful girls, she is a freelance health writer who specializes in Heart Health and any health and wellness topic. Her writing services have provided written health content for a number of websites.
Lydia’s passionate about making a difference in people’s lives and uses her experience as a Registered Nurse to research and turn medical jargons into lay person talk. She writes in a style that she can communicate to her patients and their families.