A Melissa matter: Keep your ticker ticking after Christmas
by MELISSA SNYDER
Dec 26, 2010 | 1904 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While everything may be happy and good and the soul may be jolly during the Christmas season one thing that isn’t always so good is the heart. Did you know the day after Christmas is one of the most dangerous days of the year for those vulnerable to all types of cardiac problems, such as heart attacks, heart failure, heart disease and arrhythmia?

Most who end up in the emergency room did not have a clue they were at risk as they celebrated with family and friends the day before. Physicians refer to this time as the “Merry Christmas coronaries.”

“The Doctor Oz Show” featured a story on Christmas heart attacks, citing that heart disease-related deaths increase 5 percent Christmas Day, the days following Christmas and New Year’s Day.

A study conducted by Tufts University and the University of California found heart-related deaths increase by nearly 5 percent during the Christmas season. One theory is, the busyness of the season causes folks to put off seeking treatment for problems. One report indicated those who ended up in the hospital admitted to having some noticeable signs one or two days before Christmas, making Christmas Day itself one of the quietest days the ER ever sees.

Samin Sharma, M.D., director of interventional cardiology at Mount Sinai, says one way to keep the ticker ticking is to avoid excessive alcoholic beverages. Fretting over the credit card bills to come and money woes can cause stress and many times cause some to drink too much. Alcohol can trigger an irregular heartbeat. If it continues it increases the risk of a stroke. Not good!

It’s easy to enjoy the rich, delicious holiday food a little too much and put more salt than usual on food, which is why some individuals confuse the signs of a heart attack with heartburn, indigestion or stomach pains from eating too much. They may lie down thinking it will go away. The last thing they want to do is haul themselves to the hospital.

But waiting can be dangerous, according to Dr. Sharma, who says if you’re having a heart attack, you cannot wait longer than 12 hours to be treated.

Listening to the body and paying attention to signs and discomfort can save a life. And if you aren’t one to overindulge you may want to keep an eye on the rest of the family — especially those who have had heart trouble in the past.

Things to look out for are pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. A feeling of fullness or squeezing. Pain in the arms, the stomach, neck, back and jaw. Shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, sweating and exhaustion.

Everyone — not just those at risk of heart failure — can sure benefit from keeping an eye on what’s on the plate in front of them. It’s a great start to making some positive changes for the new year and if the ticker is ticking the chances are much higher for keeping the New Year’s resolutions.