What Is Holiday Heart Syndrome?

What Is Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Have you ever heard the term “holiday heart syndrome?” This occurrence, named after the binge drinking typically done around the holiday season, can cause your heart to experience a faster, more irregular heartbeat.


What is the difference between holiday heart syndrome and actual arrhythmia?

Heart arrhythmia, which is any disorder affecting the heart’s beat, can be triggered by excessive drinking or dehydration. But in individuals who don’t have arrhythmia, the heart’s normal rate is restored once the after-effects of drinking alcohol have faded.


Who is most at risk?

According to the Harvard Medical School, holiday heart syndrome can affect just anyone — not only people who have heart problems. However, individuals who have atrial fibrillation, an arrhythmia disorder where the top two chambers of the heart are “misfiring” and therefore causing an irregular and rapid beat, might be more prone to bouts of holiday heart syndrome. In fact, some people don’t realize they have atrial fibrillation until a night of heavy drinking triggers it.


What are the symptoms of holiday heart syndrome?

If you wake up the morning after binge drinking — defined as five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in two hours for women — and your heart is racing, pounding or skipping beats, you’re likely suffering from holiday heart syndrome.


What can you do about it?

Experts suggest helping your heart get back to normal by one or more of the following:

Drinking a glass of water slowly

Taking a number of deep, calming breaths

Aerobic exercise, yoga and meditation

Engaging the vagus nerve by singing, chanting or humming


Should you panic if you have holiday heart syndrome?

No, you should not panic. But you should absolutely drink less alcohol and less caffeine, both of which can throw off your heart rhythms. Ample rest, exercise and the other normal pillars of health are also useful for keeping your heart on track.


Written by: Denise K. James

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