Holiday Heart Syndrome: A Simple Trick to Help Protect Your Holiday Heart Health by Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson
Whether you love or really don’t love the holiday season, there is no question that it can be stressful. And one way people deal with both stress and celebration is to have a drink. A holiday cocktail here, a glass of bubbly there, a bottle of wine brought by a friend as a hostess gift cracked open at dinner and gone by morning – it’s something many people do and often don’t think much about. However, drinking alcohol plus feeling a lot of stress can be a recipe for a condition called Holiday Heart Syndrome.
This condition, well known to doctors, causes atrial fibrillation or other potentially hazardous heart rhythm abnormalities in response to stress and a higher-than-usual amount of alcohol consumption. It happens in people who have no history of heart problems, and if you’re stressing and drinking, it could happen to you.
But never fear, you can protect your holiday heart with a strategy that lets you have your fun but helps you practice moderation in an easy, measurable way. I call it the Rule of Halves, and I suggest it for any habit someone is trying to break. Most often, I recommend it for people who want to cut down on their alcohol consumption. Here’s how it works, and really, it couldn’t be simpler!
This holiday season, every time you are in a situation where you will be drinking alcohol, decide what you would normally drink (you know yourself), then cut it in half. If you would likely have four glasses of champagne throughout the course of a holiday party, cut it to two. If you would have two sugar cookie martinis on Christmas Eve, cut it to one. If you would normally split that bottle of wine with your sweetheart, split half the bottle and save the rest for tomorrow.
Consistently cutting your consumption in half rather than going cold turkey can be the first step to a healthier holiday season. Chances are, you’ll feel better, have more energy and enjoy yourself more. (And by the way, it also works for Christmas sweets, time glued to your phone or binge-watching your favorite show – just cut the amount or time in half). The Rule of Halves can be your secret weapon for staying on track and preserving your heart health without feeling like you’re missing out on all the fun. Cheers!
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