East Texans suffer from Holiday Heart Syndrome

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's unexpected, painful and sometimes deadly; it's a heart-attack. For some people, Christmas time is a breeding ground for Holiday Heart Syndrome.

"Holiday Heart Syndrome is basically increasing the number of heart attacks, increasing the cardiac arrhythmias especially in winter months, also in holidays," said Dr. Ravinder Bachireddy, a Cardiologist at the Heart Institute of East Texas.

Bachireddy says cold weather is one of the main factors in holiday heart attacks because it causes vascular constriction, which can cause blood clots. In turn, these clots will bring on sudden heart attacks, especially during stressful holidays like Christmas. However, Bachireddy says there are multiple factors to having a sudden heart attack.

"There are other triggers like excessive eating, excessive alcohol consumption and excessive stress including exertion. Any of these factors could trigger the heart attacks and could also trigger the cardiac arrhythmias, which means palpitations," Bachireddy said.

Bachireddy says it is very important for people to understand heart attacks are more likely to happen to those who suffer from common risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and  high cholesterol. He says age, lack of exercise and smoking are also major contributors.

Dr. Vivek Mangla, a Cardiologist at Memorial Hospital, agrees but says it's okay to celebrate the holidays with alcohol and food as long as it's in moderation.

"Watch your salt intake because people with bad hearts tend to eat things, which are rich in salt and may cause them to go into heart failure. So have fun, but in moderation," said Mangla.

Bachireddy recommends people avoid cold weather if possible, excessive stress, drinking large amounts of alcohol, eating foods rich with salt and fat, and encourages people to exercise daily.

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