Cardiac problems spike during the holidays. Here’s how to keep your heart healthy.
The holidays are a joy for many. But they also come with an alarming pattern: deadly heart attacks increase during the winter holiday season. One study found Christmas and New Year’s Day as two of the worst for heart attack risk1.
Coming out of Chicago, I saw this all the time. Those days were super busy in the emergency room and the cardiac catheterization lab. What should be a time for celebration becomes a time of grieving.
Cold can be a trigger for heart attacks by causing constricted blood vessels. Blood pressure may rise in some people as well. Shoveling snow is a precipitating event for many people. After sitting on your rear all holiday season, the big snow hits and you decide to clear it. Bad combination.
To simply attribute this spike in deadly cardiovascular events to cold weather is misleading. Cardiac problems go up during the winter holiday in all areas of the country – including warm weather locations like Florida, Arizona and California. The common culprits appear to be bad food, high stress, and poor sleep. Add those ingredients with a heavy dose of “not feeling like exercising” and voila… the heart attack.
The winter season also means lack of sunshine. The sun produces vitamin D, melatonin, and nitric oxide. All those factors protect against heart attacks. Without the sun exposure, you are at risk.
Finally, low vitamin D breeds infections, especially as people spend more time in close confines. The stress of a viral or bacterial infection can be enough to tip people over into a heart attack.
We recommend you take these steps to avoid holiday heart attacks:
Make good food choices – Avoid the excess drinking, eating and all the sugar that comes with most holiday goodies. Strive to stick to healthy, organic Paleo foods. Heavy drinking can cause irregular heartbeats (called atrial fibrillation), which dramatically increases the risk of a cardiovascular event.
Get sunshine – We know the sun is a rare commodity in the winter. Try to find it, no matter what the temp. Best advice… go on vacation to a sunny location.
Sleep – Our ancestors went to sleep with the sundown and awoke with the sunrise. I understand that means getting in to bed between 7 and 8pm. Deal with it.
Meditate – Meditation has been proven to ease anxiety, depression and pain. Just 10 minutes a day in mindful meditation can make a world of difference in your stress levels and well-being.
Stay active – Bundle up if necessary but make sure to walk outside daily. Get sunshine when possible, even if only on your face. Do body weight exercises in your home.
Wear layers – Layering your clothing is the best way to stay comfortable outdoors. You don’t want to put stress on your heart by being too cold, nor do you want to be too hot. Here’s a nice article about layering your clothing for outdoor protection and comfort from REI, one of the world’s largest outdoor outfitters.
Stay within your limits – Steer clear of things you haven’t been doing, like over-exerting yourself by shoveling snow (especially if you haven’t been exercising and are out of shape), loading yourself full of sugar cookies, or fighting with the relatives you haven’t seen in a year.
Avoid the flu vaccine – Although infections and fevers can compromise the heart, the flu vaccine does not work, and it weakens your immune system. Your immune system is your body’s defense mechanism against infections and fevers. You want it to be as strong and healthy as possible. Instead of the flu shot, take the natural immune system boosters in our cold and flu prevention kit.
Spend within your limits – Financial pressures around the holidays create stress. Don’t strain your finances and create the stress with holiday gift-giving.
Follow our health tips when flying – Many people travel during the holidays. Follow our health tips when flying this holiday season.
Take nutritional supplements – In addition to our Foundation Five, here are 3 products we recommend:
Get help – If you feel you are having a heart attack, irregular heartbeat, chest pain or any sign of a cardiovascular event, seek treatment immediately.
Keep in mind that cardiovascular events don’t just suddenly occur. The best way to avoid a heart attack during the holidays is by following healthy living practices year-round. And that’s where we come in. Sign up to get your free copy of our monthly newsletter. It comes straight to your inbox once a month and it is packed full of natural health information anyone can use to stay healthy with a great quality of life. Claim your free copy at https://www.thedrswolfson.com/newsletter/.
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