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November 30, 2018

Protect Your Health Over the Holidays

Heart-related deaths increase by 5 percent during the holiday season. Fatal heart attacks peak on Christmas, the day after Christmas, and New Year’s Day, according to research.

While researchers don’t know exactly why heart attacks are more common around holidays, they note a number of possible reasons, including changes in diet and alcohol consumption during the holidays; stress from family interactions, strained finances, travel and entertaining; respiratory problems from burning wood; and not paying attention to the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

The warning signs of a heart attack can vary from person to person, however, and may be noticeably different in men vs. women or in older adults vs. younger adults.

The classic signs of a heart attack in men are:

  • Substernal chest pressure and/or pain that may radiate to the neck, jaw, arms, and back
  • Sweating
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Cold/clammy skin

In women, the following signs are common:

  • Sudden-onset shortness of breath with or without chest pressure or a burning sensation in the chest
  • Generalized fatigue
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Confusion (particularly in older women)

The less common warning signs of a heart attack that can happen in both men and women include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Brief loss of consciousness when the heart attack begins

Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to your heart gets blocked. This is why your doctor may have started you on an aspirin regimen, since aspirin thins the blood and prevents clots from forming. Never start aspirin therapy without talking to your doctor first.

Whether you’re taking aspirin or not, you can reduce your risk of heart attacks. Drink plenty of water. Eat heart-healthy foods like tomatoes, fish, oatmeal, nuts and beans, even red wine and dark chocolate in moderation. Walk, run or hit the gym five days a week. Lose weight and don’t smoke. When facing a stressful situation, chill.

Make sure the holidays don’t get in the way of taking your medicines and continuing to be attentive to a healthy diet.

Because people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease than those who don’t, taking good care of your oral health will pay off in better heart health too.

Brush and floss daily, and keep your dental care appointments.

 


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