During the festive and New Year season, we spend a lot more time visiting friends and family, eating out and attending parties as we celebrate the new year. All around the world, this means a lot more eating and a lot more drinking – and Australians are no exception. This can result in a very serious health issue called Holiday Heart Syndrome. Here’s some insight into this issue, why it matters and what to do about it, from leading defibrillator suppliers.
The Basics About Holiday Heart Syndrome
For many people, the holiday season lifestyle means drinking more alcohol, more caffeine and more salt – in some cases, quite a lot more! This can lead to a temporary irregular heartbeat, which can be surprising and frightening as well as dangerous for some, especially if you have experienced heart health problems or have a chronic disease that impacts on heart health.
Usually, the issue is triggered by excessive alcohol consumption, and can affect you regardless of if you are a heavy drinker or an occasional drinker. Alcohol is a muscle relaxant, and overindulging can trigger an arrythmia (irregular heartbeat) as a result. Overindulging in rich, salty foods can worsen this issue because of the additional stress these foods place on the cardiovascular system, as can a lack of sleep and too much caffeine, as well as the stress and pressures of family life.
In studies, researchers have found that episodes of hospitalisations due to irregular heartbeat spiked and heart attack risks jumped by 15% during the holiday period, which is how this health condition got its name.
Why Does Holiday Heart Syndrome Matter?
The issue is difficult to predict and usually resolves itself in 24 hours, but can trigger more dangerous episodes of atrial fibrillation (a racing heartbeat that results from erratic electrical signals in the two upper chambers of the heart) and even increase risks of blood clots, stroke, heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest and blood supply problems.
What Should I Do?
Now that you are aware of Holiday Heart Syndrome and it’s dangers, you can take additional steps to prevent it. Of course, this means avoiding binge drinking and balancing rich foods and family events with exercise, relaxation and a healthy diet. This is critical if you have a history of heart health issues or a chronic disorder that may affect your heart health.
If do you experience an irregular heartbeat after a big day or night out, you are an otherwise healthy person with no history of heart health problems, the condition should resolve on its own. However, you should get immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
Be Heart Safe – Have an AED On Hand This Summer
DefibsPlus is a leading supplier of cardiac emergency equipment, including Mediana, LifePak and Phillips AEDs. In addition to supplying your facility with a defibrillator, we can also supply you with AED storage and signage, replacement parts, electrode pads, batteries, and PPE. We also run defibrillator training through our HeartSmart Program.