Though we love this time of year, it can be pretty stressful. Crazy schedules. Financial strain. Traffic. Less time for exercise. Complicated family dynamics. Studies have shown that cardiac events such as heart attacks and strokes peak during the holiday season.
A number of factors are thought to be responsible, but a major one is that normal routines are disrupted during the holidays, leading to a significant increase in stress. Since we know that’s not on your wishlist, here are a few things to think about:
GET SOME REST AND UNPLUG.
Quality sleep helps to protect your heart and keep your stress levels down. Practice good sleep hygiene; that means no smart phones in bed. In fact, charge your devices away from your bed. If your phone has a blue light filter, turn it on because this type of light generated from the screen can negatively affect your melatonin levels, an important sleep hormone. Anyone might be tired from all the hustle and bustle of holiday prep, but if you’re waking up feeling like you never went to bed in the first place, there may be a bigger problem. Ask yourself how long it’s been going on, and talk to your doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea. This very common, treatable disorder is linked to hypertension, irregular heart rhythm, heart attack and coronary artery disease.
DON’T IGNORE SYMPTOMS.
If you feel unwell, don’t delay seeking medical attention. Men and women should look out for changes in their normal health. Symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness or passing out, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, pain in the jaw, neck, or back, or pain in the shoulder or arm.
It sounds simple, but it’s so easy to forget when you’re looking at that plate full of cheesy mashed potatoes with a side of chocolate cake. Or you’ve received another invitation for which you really don’t have the capacity; you can say no. You don’t have to go to every party, eat every treat, or buy every gift. Overindulging, no matter how you do it, is a fast track to stress, and it’s bad for your heart. Protect your schedule, your budget, and your heart by pacing yourself and staying in control.
About Dr. Hashmi
Usman Hashmi, MD, FACC, is board certified in cardiology, both interventional and nuclear, and internal medicine. He grew up in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Hashmi’s primary focus is on comprehensive and compassionate patient-centered care emphasizing a unified team approach with the patient, their family, and all healthcare providers.
For more information and to make an appointment, visit YourCentralFloridaDoctor.com/Cardiac or call 407-303-6588.