By Dr. William Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., Cardiology
The holidays are here. It’s the time of year when many indulge in the season… and slack on maintaining their health. More people have heart attacks in December and January than any other month of the year due to excessive alcohol, lack of exercise and food over consumption – all hallmarks of the holiday season.
It’s important to remember to eat, drink and be merry, but all in moderation! While moderate alcohol intake appears to protect the heart, repeated overindulgence poses a direct and immediate threat to the heart. Eating foods high in fat and sodium can not only raise the long-term effects of obesity and high blood pressures, but also increase the immediate likelihood of a heart attack.
The holidays are also accompanied by high levels of stress and depression which can lead to an increased risk of cardiac events. Daily exercise such as a morning walk or jog can reduce stress, improve mood and assist in preventing a potential health scare.
While an episode of chest discomfort after a holiday meal can often be attributed to indigestion, it may be more than you think. It is very important to know and understand the signs of a heart attack and call 911 if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms:
- Heart attack symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing, anxiety, perfuse sweating and nausea.
- Women often have little or no chest pain with a heart attack. Instead, they tend to experience unusual fatigue, difficulty sleeping and shortness of breath that may precede the heart attack by as long as a month.
- Out-of-towners can be especially reluctant to go to an unfamiliar hospital or doctor. Don’t delay!
To help you stay heart-healthy this holiday season, follow these simple tips:
- Enjoy the season! Moderation is key when eating and drinking during the holidays.
- Don’t stress. Relax, and take downtime to spend with family and friends.
- Stay active. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, depression and psychological stress. Plan an outdoor activity or participate in a holiday fun run with family to celebrate the season.
- If you’re feeling down during the holidays, you may be experiencing depression. Tel someone you trust and seek help.
- Feeling funny? Don’t ignore symptoms that may indicate a heart attack! Hospitals appreciate false alarms over mortalities.
Dr. William Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., specializes in Cardiology, Heart and Vascular and the Interventional Cardiology Program, and will offer Cardiology services beginning January 1, 2018 at St. Charles Parish Hospital, a facility in Luling, La. managed by Ochsner. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bennett at St. Charles Parish Hospital (1057 Paul Maillard Road, Luling), please visit www.ochsner.org/doctors/william-bennett or call (985) 888-0842.