The Holidays are a joyous time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends. But they have also been found to increase the risk for heart problems. Heart related deaths and heart failure hospitalizations rise sharply around the winter holidays.
Several triggers for this increased risk have been reported in recent studies:
• Our normal routine is disrupted – we may be traveling, eating and drinking differently, under more stress and exercising less
• Cold weather can also be a trigger (especially when shoveling snow)
• Depression may be more prevalent – you may be missing a loved one more around the holiday season
For years I have been teaching people about the “5 E’s” these are five things that start with the letter E that can increase your risk for heart problems.
• EATING – heart attacks can be triggered by eating meals with a high fat content or eating heavy meals. Enjoy the holiday meals but remember moderation is key.
• EXERTION – heart attacks can be triggered by too much exertion (again think about shoveling snow). Bundle up and take frequent rest breaks. Also if you are starting a new exercise routine – slowly increase your activity, don’t overdo it.
• ELIMINATION – heart attacks can be triggered during straining to have a bowel movement. Remember to eat your fiber and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.
• EXTREME EMOTIONS – heart attacks can be triggered by extreme emotions such as depression and anger. The holidays can be a stressful time, make sure you are taking time for yourself and your mental well-being.
• EXTREME TEMPERATURE CHANGES – heart attacks can be triggered by temperature changes, such as going out of your warm house out into the cold weather. Remember to bundle up and cover your mouth and nose with a scarf, breathing in the cold air suddenly can put stress on your heart.
So Enjoy the Holiday Season but remember to take care of your health – your heart will thank you for it! Thinking about Healthy New Year’s Resolutions check out our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart” available at www.heart-strong.com