5 Ways to Avoid a Post-Holiday Heart Attack

5 Ways to Avoid a Post-Holiday Heart AttackDoing these things can help keep your heart healthier at this time of year.

While many people consider the holiday season to be joyous, the season's typically unhealthy habits may be to blame for a spike in heart attacks during the months of December and January. 

Holiday celebrations and get-togethers with family and friends tend to lead to overindulging in unhealthy foods and alcohol. These overindulgences, often coupled with too little sleep, not enough exercise and excess stress can all add up to trouble for your heart. If you live in a cold or snowy climate, the cold weather and strenuous activities like shoveling snow can also increase heart attack risk. People with underlying heart disease – and even those who never knew they had issues with their hearts – may face serious medical problems due to these seasonal factors.

Here are 5 things you can do to help protect your heart during this time of the year:

  1. Practice moderation. It's okay to enjoy your favorite foods and drinks on occasion, but watch portion sizes.
  2. Keep moving. Even if you can't find time for a full workout, try to get in a few 10-minute spurts of activity throughout the day. 
  3. Take time for yourself. Don't let anger or stress get the best of you. Spend at least a few minutes each day focused on you and find ways to relax.
  4. Get your zzz's. Your body needs the rest and recovery a good night's sleep provides. So even if you're busy, make sleep a priority.
  5. Prepare for the cold. When you head outdoors, dress warmly and in layers. If you're going to shovel, make sure you are in good enough physical shape, warm up and take frequent breaks. Ask for help if the job's too big or you're unsure if your heart can handle the strain.

Most importantly, know the warning signs of a heart attack. If you have chest pain or pressure, pain in your arm, back, neck or jaw, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or sweating, don't hesitate to call for help.

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