Although the season to be jolly is here, throwing back the holiday wines and beers can increase heart troubles during the holiday season. It is known as the “Holiday Heart Syndrome” and the cause of it can be attributed to overloading on alcohol. The syndrome is most commonly referred to as the association between alcohol use and rhythm disturbances.  

“Holiday heart syndrome should be particularly considered as a diagnosis in patients without structural heart disease and with new-onset atrial fibrillation,” according to Medscape.

“Most studies investigating holiday heart trends have found a statistical increase in heart attacks and other problems — not a giant surge but worth noting just the same,” said Dr. Richard Stein, a cardiologist at New York University's Medical Center and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, Health24 reported.

Treating and preventing “Holiday Heart Syndrome” is important as heart-related problems linked with Christmas and New Year’s account for 2,000 extra deaths per year, said David Phillips a sociologist at the University of California's San Diego campus.

There are other risk factors for heart disease that for many are common knowledge such as smoking, diabetes, and lack of exercise, but there is also evidence that the time of year might contribute to this as well.

“We’re also learning that there are certain triggers for cardiovascular events, including time of the year and seasons,” said, Robert A. Kloner, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, “If we can get a true handle on the seasonal variation, we could knock down death from coronary disease.”

So understanding the causes and symptoms is important. Not only does alcohol contribute to “Holiday Heart Syndrome,” but strenuous activities in the cold-weather, and a lack of exercise can exacerbate the problem as well.

Preventive care is the best advice. According to Dr. Stein, “flu shots, avoiding excessive eating and drinking, and getting enough exercise throughout the season,” are all helpful steps in preventing yourself from landing in the emergency room. However, in the case that mild symptoms such as chest pains, heavy breathing, and heart attack-like symptoms do appear, they should not be ignored.