Heart-related deaths increase by 5% during the holiday season

Bottom line: Enjoy, but don’t stress or overindulge
Thanksgiving dinner
Photo credit Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Gathering together and breaking bread with family is what Thanksgiving is all about, but for many, it can be a time of increased heart issues.

Studies show there’s a 5% increase in heart-related deaths around Thanksgiving and Christmas than any other time in the U.S. Overindulgence is, in part, to blame, as we cram in more salt, sugar and alcohol.

“Alcohol has been shown to cause arrhythmias, and there is some report of the ‘holiday heart’ syndrome because it can cause abnormal rhythms,” explained Dr. Eman Hamad, director of the Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Temple University Hospital. She also serves on the board of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign in Philadelphia.

Along with all the extra eating, stress can also increase cortisol levels.

“Studies have shown that patients who have high levels of cortisol are five times more likely to develop heart attacks and strokes because of that,” said Hamad. “And that’s even if they don’t have risk factors, meaning high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. And those who do have these risk factors are even at higher risk of developing all the above.”

For those at higher risk, she said it’s important to control and monitor sugar intake.

“Moderation is the key. You want to enjoy the holiday. At the same time, you want to make sure that your health is good.”

The bottom line: Don’t pass on the gravy, mac and cheese, and pies. Just enjoy it in moderation. And, hosts shouldn’t overwork themselves.

“Get some rest. Ask for help,” Hamad advised. “Don’t do everything on your own. Give your body what it needs.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images