Heart attack is more common over holidays

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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The holiday season may be a time for merry, but according to a study, it is the peak time for heart attack cases.

Holidays are the time everyone waits for. The holidays are a special time to reflect on the good things, celebrate annual traditions, and connect with friends and family. If we are talking about holidays, how can we forget that Christmas and New Year are coming? But here’s a health alert – the merriment may turn detrimental for your heart.

Recently, a world-renowned health organization revealed that heart attack deaths are more likely during the holidays than any other time of year. Scared? Well, who knew the holidays could pose a risk to our lives? 

heart attack
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to heart health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What the study says about holidays and the heart

The American Heart Association says the week between Christmas and New Year’s is especially concerning. This time deaths related to a heart attack are more likely to occur than any other time of the year.

Dr Andrew Rauh, a cardiologist with Duly Health Care and president of the AHA’s Chicago Board of Directors, also revealed that people die from heart attack during this time because of the cold weather, hard workout, and not being in shape and last is existing physical conditions. 

The risk factors of heart attack

Dr G Ramesh, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Proctor for Complex Coronary Intervention, Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad, tells HealthShots about the risk factors of heart attack. 

Factors that put you at high risk include:

  1. Smoking and alcohol
  2. High cholesterol levels
  3. High blood pressure
  4. Obesity
  5. Uncontrolled diabetes
  6. Sedentary lifestyle
  7. A family history
  8. High levels of stress

Usually, a heart attack results from a combination of factors and not just a single factor.

heart attack
Don’t ignore your heart health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Symptoms of heart attack to look out for

Dr Arumit Palit, an interventional cardiologist at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, says that heart attack occurs mostly because of coronary heart diseases of coronary artery disease. So how do you know you are having a heart attack? Or about to have one?

Well, according to Dr Palit, some of the most common warning signs of heart attack are: 

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Usually, symptoms are associated with exertion such as walking, running, exercise

Other possible symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Sweating
  • Feeling unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days
  • Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) and vomiting
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
  • Any sudden, new symptom or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have (for example, if your symptoms become stronger or last longer than usual)
  • People who have high blood sugar (diabetes) may not have chest pain even with severe blockages due to peripheral neuropathy
  • Pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw

Please note that these are indicative signs. Heart attacks can be sudden events with no forewarning. Though in some cases, symptoms can develop over a period.

heart attack
Knowing the signs of heart attack can help you save a life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to prevent it

Dr G Ramesh says that a healthy lifestyle is promotes prevention. Here’s how you can keep your heart healthy and happy:  

  • Quit smoking. Smoking more than doubles the risk of getting heart disease.
  • Keep your vitals including blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, in check.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
  • Get regular exercise. Even brisk walking for 30 minutes can be extremely beneficial for heart health.
  • Limit bad fats (saturated and trans fats) and sugars. 
  • Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
  • Increase your protein intake. Chicken, eggs, lean meat, fish, tofu, peas, lentils etc are good sources of heart healthy proteins. 
  • Check if you are taking too much alcohol and limit it if the answer is a yes.

As we know, a heart attack is life-threatening. It needs emergency medical attention. However, many people have survived them due to effective and timely treatment.

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