The Holiday Heart Syndrome
Symptoms are pretty obvious, given that you’d have been eating and drinking to excess. You’d also note that your heart was racing and perhaps pounding, as if it was attempting to jump out of your chest. Heart rates in the 120s are pretty typical for holiday heart syndrome (a normal heart rate is between 70-100 beats per minute). This tidbit is important to know; if your heart rate is higher than this, something more serious could be occurring. Under either circumstance, you need to be evaluated and treated in the emergency room setting with hydration and observation of the heart rhythm and rate.
The lessons here are pretty straightforward:
- Holiday heart syndrome suggests that indulgences that occur during the holidays can cause symptoms. By no means does it suggest that these symptoms are restricted to the holidays. Overindulgence in food and drink can cause abnormal heart rhythms at any time. That includes weekends, spring break and birthdays, in addition to holidays.
- The combination of vodka and the energy drink Red Bull make these symptoms more likely to occur.
What you can do
Following alcohol-related abnormal heart rhythms, it is advisable for patients to avoid significant exertion. Excessive stimulation that raises epinephrine levels can precipitate recurrent and possibly cause more serious episodes. Most patients without underlying heart disease should be able to gradually resume full physical activity over the next few days. Once everything is back to normal, most patients do not require further therapy if they refrain from alcohol use. Patients with underlying heart disease, heart disease that’s discovered during evaluation, or those with severe symptoms on presentation (e.g., blackouts or simultaneous low blood pressure) may be candidates to receive certain heart medications.
At the end of the day, Holiday Heart Syndrome is yet another example of the virtue of enjoying life in moderation. Failure to do so can turn the holidays into the most dangerous time of the year. Cheers!
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