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Excessive drinking can cause ‘holiday heart syndrome’ in healthy people

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PHOENIX — The holidays are a time for excess, and that’s not so good for your heart — especially when it comes to alcohol.

Whether at parties, visiting with family or isolating at home during the pandemic – opportunities that test your will power around food and alcohol are plenty. While it’s okay to give way during the holidays, all that excess can have impact your heart, even if you are healthy.

Holiday heart syndrome is caused by bouts of drinking in excess amounts of alcohol in one time that primarily impacts people with healthy hearts.

“The vast majority of people usually do feel something called a palpitation, where they may feel their heart is skipping a beat or there is a fluttering in their chest or they may even feel a little light headed or dizzy,” Valley cardiologist Dr. Rachel Bond told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Bond, an American Heart Association board member, said it’s called holiday heart syndrome because it was discovered around the holidays.

More people were experiencing the same symptoms — all of who were relatively healthy, but had been drinking in excess in a short amount of time.

In most cases, the palpitations occur suddenly and after some period of time stop just as quick.

Typically, it takes about 24 hours and or until the alcohol is completely out of your system for your heart to begin normal beating again.

Bond said one symptoms is chest discomfort. If that persists, she recommends calling your doctor or even emergency medical services to get your heart checked.

If you do experience a racing heart after drinking too much, watch the time. If the symptoms last for hours – seek help. If the feelings pass within minutes, tell your doctor about it at your next appointment.

One good rule of thumb is to remember how much alcohol you had, what type, and what you ate prior to the holiday heart symptoms, so you can better identify triggers in the future.

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