St. Francis Hospital warns of hidden seasonal danger: ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome’

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Doctors at St. Francis Hospital say over-indulging this holiday season can land seemingly healthy people in the hospital.

Holiday Heart Syndrome is an irregular heartbeat, and is also known as atrial fibrillation. Doctors at St. Francis say they see an influx of patients dealing with this disorder during the holidays.

“People should really be on the lookout for any sudden feeling of palpitations,” says Dr. Stefan Muehlbauer. “Which is any abnormal sensation in the heartbeat, a heartbeat being really rapid.”

Muehlbauer says it can also come with lightheadedness, chest pain or shortness of breath.

Doctors say Holiday Heart Syndrome can be brought on by alcohol, salty foods, the stress of holiday shopping and lack of sleep. They say it can affect anyone – even those who do not have any chronic heart conditions.

If the irregular heartbeat is left untreated, it can increase the risk of a stroke.

Doctors encourage people to consider minimizing the risk of Holiday Heart Syndrome by keeping alcohol intake to a minimum, staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine, salty and fatty foods. They say to try to get at least seven hours of sleep and see a doctor if anything heart-related feels out of the ordinary.

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