How to manage your heart health during the holidays

All of the holiday hustle and bustle can cause stress on your heart, according to doctors.
All of the holiday hustle and bustle can cause stress on your heart, according to doctors.
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:28 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A new study by the American Heart Association shows that more people die of a heart attack in the last week of December than any other time of the year.

The most wonderful time of the year can quickly become the most tragic time for many people. Planning, shopping and cooking meals can add a lot of pressure on someone’s plate.

We spoke to Dr. Malcolm Foster, the Director of Vascular Laboratory at Tennova, Turkey Creek Medical Center. He told us how, unfortunately, your first heart attack could be your last.

“We think it’s kind of a perfect storm, so there’s holiday cheer, but there’s holiday stress, and there’s holiday winter weather. Unfortunately, people have a higher number of heart attacks and sudden cardiovascular deaths at the end of December,” Dr. Foster said.

Dr. Foster told WVLT News how the weather plays a significant role in cardiovascular disease increase during the winter months.

“The cold weather puts some stress on the heart, and if the person is susceptible, then during those cold weather months, they’re more likely to have a heart attack,” Dr. Foster explained.

The AHA is encouraging everyone to prioritize their health, even during the hectic time of the holidays. Also, everyone should learn CPR; it is the best way to help prevent a heart attack when it is happening.

“We really encourage you to keep your stress levels down and to do the healthy things you need to do, and that is to monitor your numbers and monitor your blood pressure monitor your blood sugar monitor your weight. Try to keep your weight down during the holidays, not easy, but it can be done.”

Dr. Foster and the AHA suggested that people try and get out and exercise or move their bodies as much as possible. Limiting your alcohol or smoking intake is another way.

“People who have risk factors, for example, we really encourage them to see their physician and to have a screening test to try to detect coronary artery disease at an early time and at an early age because we can make a difference and hopefully never have a heart attack if we intervein early.”

Diet and exercise are key ways to improve your heart health. If you can in any way this holiday season, doctors suggest attempting to keep your stress levels low even during crazy times amid the holiday season.

If you are high risk, including high blood pressure or high blood sugar, you need to talk to your physician and see about getting a screening.

Dr. Foster said if you are experiencing heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately or find your nearest hospital.