Vacation coronary heart syndrome blues – Well being and Life-style

By Henrylito D. Tacio

Christmas is coming soon.

Despite grappling with the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, no one can stop Filipinos from celebrating the most anticipated commemoration of the year.

“It won’t be the same, however,” says Rublita T. Madera, a housewife with two children from Bansalan, Davao del Sur. “We’ll still be preparing food for our table, but our celebration won’t be as lavish as it was before.”

The birth of Jesus Christ brings joy and happiness. It means cooking, giving, bonusing and drinking. It is also a time of heart attacks and strokes.

“The number of heart deaths is higher on December 25th than any other day of the year, on December 26th the second highest and on January 1st the third highest,” according to a study published in Circulation.

In fact, several studies conducted in the U.S. showed a 5 percent increase in heart attacks and strokes – and deaths – during the Christmas season. “We found that 30-day patient mortality was higher in December,” reported Duke University cardiologist James Jollis, who conducted a 1994-1996 study of 127,959 patients hospitalized for heart attacks.

The same phenomenon happened in the Philippines. A survey was conducted in Metro Manila from 2004 to 2008. It showed a tripling of emergencies and shots during the holiday season.

“Patients were admitted for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes – because they had eaten too much and drank too much,” wrote Dr. Anthony Leachon of Manila Doctors Hospital, an internist who specializes in cardiology.

“Typically about 30 to 50 cases occur between January and November,” continued Dr. Leachon gone. “But that rose to 153 in December 2004, 163 in 2005, 172 in 2006, 170 in 2007, and 170 in 2008. Half of the vacation patients have expired.”

In an article he wrote on Health and Lifestyle a few years ago, Dr. Leachon this phenomenon “Holiday Heart Syndrome” (HHS).

“During the Christmas season, more people suffer from heart attacks and strokes,” he emphasized. “Worse, those affected are more likely to die than at any other time of the year.”

It was Dr. Philip Ettinger and Münzprüfer, who coined the term “vacation heart syndrome” in 1978. They defined it as “an acute heart rhythm and / or conduction disorder associated with heavy ethanol consumption in a person with no other clinical signs of heart disease. ”

According to Dr. Lawrence Rosenthal, in an article published by, “The initial detection of the syndrome was the result of their study examining 32 different dysrhythmic episodes in 24 patients hospitalized for their condition.”

Dr. Leachon suggested that HHS was due to the cold weather during the holiday season. December is usually cooler compared to other months of the year. “Doctors have long known that cold weather hits the heart hard,” he wrote.

“Blood vessels constrict, which increases blood pressure,” he said. “Blood coagulates more easily too. The freezing temperature increases the stress on the heart, and too much exercise can worsen the stress and cause a heart attack. “

The phenomenon is more evident in the United States as winter sets in in December. “Over a 12-year period, there were consistently more deaths from ischemic heart disease in winter than in summer,” he wrote.

“Colder temperatures have been linked to increases in vascular resistance, coronary vasospasm, blood pressure, and hemostasis,” continued Dr. Leachon gone. “This holiday peak of cardiac deaths may be due to other factors including emotional stress during the vacation, over indulgence during the holiday season, or both.”

However, some health experts believe that Christmas parties fueled by greasy, salty appetizers with lots of alcohol trigger irregular heart rhythms known as atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterized by the rapid and irregular beating of the atrial chambers of the heart. It often begins with short periods of abnormal beats that become longer or uninterrupted over time.

“While pre-existing heart disease increases the susceptibility to vacation heart syndrome, the sudden onset of atrial fibrillation mostly affects perfectly healthy people with no pre-existing heart problems,” wrote Sandee LaMotte of CNN Health.

The cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell from North Carolina agrees. “It is believed that atrial fibrillation in vacation heart syndrome is related to excessive alcohol consumption,” she said, adding that it can short circuit the heart’s electrical system, alter the levels of electrolytes (or salts) in the blood, and increase the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop drinking. “Although the risk of atrial fibrillation appears to increase with the amount of alcohol consumed,” Harvard Medical School reported, “attempts to determine the alcohol consumption that is causing the arrhythmia have failed.”

“Researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption – two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women – doesn’t seem to increase the risk,” Harvard Medical School stated.

This goes well with Dr. Peter Zimetbaum, an arrhythmia specialist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Harvard.

“I advise moderation in all things,” suggests Dr. Cinnamon tree in front. “Do you have to give up alcohol and lead a spartan life if you have atrial fibrillation? Absolutely not. Just avoid excesses. “

In his article, Dr. Leachon Six Recommendations For Heart Attack Prevention On Vacation By Dr. Robert Kloner, who conducted a study on HHS in 1999. These were:

Dress warmly. Avoid very cold temperatures.

Take a load off. Avoid cardiac stressors, including too much physical exertion and emotional stress.

Make good decisions. Avoid excess salt and alcohol. Too much alcohol – for example binge drinking – can lead to atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

Get a shot. Consider getting a flu shot. Infection and fever put additional stress on the heart.

To breathe. Go indoors during air pollution warnings, but avoid breathing smoke in crowded places. If you’re visiting another home for the vacation, sit as far away from a burning fireplace as possible. Ultrafine particles in the air can be harmful to the heart.

Get help. If you experience chest pain or other symptoms, call for help. There is a lot involved. Give yourself and your family a present this season. Do not postpone treatment because you do not want to spoil the pleasure of your vacation. – ###

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