While the holiday season is associated with the indulgence of food, spending, festivities and the "spirit(s) of Christmas" (i.e. something involving frequent visits to the liquor store), it can have its downside as well... a little cheer disturber called stress. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the "stress of indulgence".
According to the alcohol industry watchdogs, 25% of the annual profit for liquor sales occurs between late November and January 1st, between American Thanksgiving and the New Year (Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, 2007).
That's right, one quarter of the annual sale of alcohol occurs in just over a month's time. Perhaps even more disturbing is the increase of cardiac arrest that occurs within this window of time as well.
In fact, coronary deaths are 33% higher between December and January than they are from June through September (L.A. Times, December 17, 2007). While this spike of heart attacks during this time period has been known in the medical field for years, it was at first attributed to people who would possibly overexert themselves by shovelling snow and have a cardiac event. Not so, as folks in southern and warmer regions (no snow available) are equally effected.
The two riskiest days for heart related deaths... Christmas day and New Year's (December 25 and January 1).
Such things as: alcohol, increased intake of rich (salty and fatty) foods as well as the all too often Christmas rush of getting from one social obligation to the next; not to mention the family tension and concerns that occur, for example, when you might wonder if "uncle Fred will go off at the mouth again" after having too much of the spiked eggnog, are all contributors to making the next party, possibly your last.
Your Five Christmas Cardiac Survival Tips:
1) Avoid excessive eating of salty foods
2) Avoid excessive eating of rich/creamy/fatty foods (avoid excessive eating period!)
3) Avoid excessive alcohol consumption (depends on age, weight, gender, history etc.)
4) Maintain some level of physical exercise or activity throughout the holidays i.e. go for a walk, take the stairs vs. elevator etc.
5) If social obligations require you to be around difficult family members, have a boundary of how long you will stay at the event, take your own car if you feel the in-laws will act up again and/or have another "out" in terms of being able to leave the event.
Perhaps the most important tip: if you feel a shortness of breath, chest pain and especially for women, symptoms such as indigestion, sleep disturbances, or weakness in the arms, etc. Don't just ignore it and think "another drink should fix that".
Listen to your body and get medical attention. This information could save a life.
Do take care over the holidays. Be mindful of excessive drinking, eating and over exerting or stressing yourself with too many social "obligations". The greatest "obligation" you can have is to a long and healthy life where you are there for your loved ones for years to come.
Season's Greetings, best wishes and best of health!