Last updated: Dec 21, 2010
It's easy to knock back several glasses of wine when you're sitting around the holiday table for long stretches of time, especially if you tell yourself that wine is good for your heart. But more than one alcoholic drink can have consequences: Excessive drinking can trigger atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat. If it persists, atrial fibrillation ups your odds of suffering a stroke. "There are huge campaigns not to drink and drive during the holidays, but no one talks about the heart dangers," says Dr. Sharma.
How to avoid a holiday heart attack
Every year, cardiologists see a spike in heart attacks once the weather starts to turn. When temperatures drop, blood vessels tend to constrict, raising blood pressure. You may want to think twice before you decide to shovel your stoop or take a postprandial hike in bitter weather, as strenuous physical activity can leave you clutching your chest.
Patients with heart failure who are following a low-sodium diet need to exercise extra caution this Christmas. Experts say that these people may choose not to live within their everyday rules, opting to partake in holiday overindulgences instead. Heavy meals, too much salt, and excess alcohol can all exacerbate heart failure.