The holidays are a time for family, joy, and festivities—but can they also be a risk factor for a heart attack?

According to an article published in a journal of the American Heart Association, the answer is “yes”.

Dr. Samantha Crites, Mon Health Cardiologist, says the uptick in heart attacks during the holidays is probably due to a combination of variables. Many people not only become more sedentary as cold weather rolls in but also indulge in an excess of decedent holiday meals and treats, she says.

“There are those physical stressors in addition to emotional triggers like coordinating holiday get-togethers, running errands, managing financial hardships, or grieving a loved one,” Dr. Crites says. “Your heart is working harder to cope with these things, making you more susceptible to a major cardiac event—especially if already have heart disease.”

Dr. Crites says families should try their best to stay calm amid the holiday chaos, especially those with pre-existing heart conditions.

“Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to holiday plans if you feel like it’s all becoming too stressful,” said Dr. Crites. “And do your best to prioritize a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and plenty of movement as those holidays meals roll around.”

Dr. Crites’ other tips for lowering your risk for a heart attack during the holidays are:

  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol
  • Continuing to exercise
  • Practicing moderation at holiday meals
  • Limiting social engagements
  • Continuing to take any doctor-prescribed medications
  • Managing stress through relaxation, meditation, and other calming activities

Schedule an appointment with the Mon Health Heart & Vascular Center by calling 304-599-8802.

Emily K. Gallagher
Multimedia Coordinator
Marketing Department
Mon Health Medical Center
Morgantown, WV