What is holiday heart syndrome?

Holiday heart syndrome is an abnormal heartbeat pattern that takes place after an otherwise healthy individual has been imbibing alcohol. Even though these arrhythmias of the heart are usually associated with heavy drinking, especially during the holidays, they may also be brought about by small quantities of alcohol. Holiday heart syndrome more often than not manifests in the form of atrial fibrillation, which tends to resolve itself and revert to normal sinus rhythm in the following 24 hours, provided there is abstinence from alcohol. However, this condition could potentially be serious, and medical attention should be sought if the symptoms last longer than 24 hours.

Other than drinking, causes of holiday heart syndrome include stress and dehydration. Other triggers are cocaine, crack, marijuana and other recreational drugs; diet drugs such as ephedrine, cold remedies, caffeine, and nicotine. The symptoms of holiday heart syndrome include palpitations (fast, irregular, or skipping heartbeat), faintness, chest discomfort, shortness of breath. Less frequent symptoms are passing out, loss of coordination, momentary blindness, and sudden death.

Holiday heart syndrome may go away on its own, but it would be better to prevent it entirely and not run the risk of a more serious complication. Practicing moderation is key in order to avoid irregular heart rhythms. And remember that just because it has the word holiday in its name, that doesn’t mean this condition can’t occur at any time of the year. That goes double for people with diabetes and who are at a greater risk for heart disease. Diabetic individuals should stick to their doctor’s healthy eating guidelines during the holidays more than ever.

Related Read: Getting back into shape after Holidays