“Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana & Rich Foods
‘Tis the season when many people end up in a hospital’s emergency room (ER) for treatment of “Holiday Heart Syndrome”, i.e., Atrial Fibrillation triggered by alcohol binging.
Overindulging in alcohol (six or more drinks) can cause surges in the body’s adrenalin, rises in the levels of free fatty acids, alterations of how sodium moves in and out of the heart cells, and a lowering of the levels of sodium, potassium, and magnesium in the body through diuresis.
Does Alcohol Alone Explain Holiday Heart Syndrome?
Excessive alcohol is not the only culprit. Recreational use of marijuana can compound the risk as well. Other factors include the nicotine effect in smokers (active and passive), large quantiles of rich food, and even cold weather. In addition, fireplace fires and bonfires can release ultra-fine particles in the air from burnt materials and can be bad for the heart.
New Year’s Eve Party Time: Be Aware
As you celebrate, encourage others to avoid heavy alcohol consumption and try to minimize eating large quantities of food at one time. Look for the symptoms of “holiday heart” among your relatives (hereditary A-Fib) and friends. Anyone with any heart symptoms should go to the ER. If they’re lucky, it will be a one time event.
Share the Cheer of the Season
Finally, if you know someone who is depressed, alone, or isolated during the holiday season, reach out and cheer them up. It may be the best thing you do for their heart as well as yours.