Winter holidays, parties and social gatherings often provide opportunities to overindulge, but when it comes to alcohol, moderation is important for maintaining good heart health. “Holiday heart syndrome or atrial fibrillation (AFib) brought on by binge drinking, can occur in healthy adults without any existing heart conditions and is commonly diagnosed around the holidays,” explained Northwest Medical Group cardiologist Alexandru Marginean, M.D.
According to Dr. Marginean, AFib is an irregular and sometimes rapid heart rhythm that if left untreated can lead to blood clots or strokes. Symptoms of AFib include a racing heartbeat which can feel like a flutter or quiver, dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pain. Luckily, holiday heart syndrome is reversible, but if heavy drinking persists, the risk of developing conditions like heart disease and heart failure increases.
Regular heavy drinking, more than eight drinks per week for women and 15 for men, and binge drinking can lead to ongoing high blood pressure, increased irregular heart rate and weakened heart muscles. According to the American College of Cardiology, eliminating alcohol abuse would result in over 34,000 fewer heart attacks, 73,000 fewer atrial fibrillation cases and 91,000 fewer patients with congestive heart failure.
“Drinking too much puts excess strain on your heart and can cause long-term cardiovascular conditions while also increasing your risk of developing some cancers and obesity,” said Dr. Marginean. “Bottom line, if you choose to drink, practice moderation.”
To cut down on drinking, consider removing alcohol from your home, picking a few days a week to abstain and always drink slowly. Stores and restaurants now offer many alcohol free alternatives like non-alcoholic beer, wine and liquor. At holiday gatherings, Dr. Marginean suggests trying to sip on a festive mocktail, sparkling cider or your favorite zero proof drink. “If efforts to cut back don’t work, it may be time to speak with a healthcare professional,” he added.
To learn about heart care services available with Dr. Marginean, visit NWMedcialGroup.com or call 219-983-6300.
About Northwest Health
Northwest Health is a comprehensive healthcare system committed to providing communities in Northwest Indiana with high-quality, accessible healthcare—from highly specialized care and surgical services to more routine primary care. The system of more than 60 access points includes three hospitals, five emergency departments, urgent care centers, outpatient surgery centers, an ambulance service, and physician offices. A team of more than 3,000 employees work together with the more than 700 physicians on its medical staffs. For more information, visit NWHealthIN.com.