The holiday heart syndrome was described over thirty years ago according to Dr. Steven Reisman, a New York City Cardiologist. This entity which is important to keep in mind during the Christmas and New Year’s season occurs usually secondary to increased and frequently heavy alcohol consumption. It results in palpitations, a rapid heart rate and at times also an irregular heart rhythm.

This syndrome is usually experienced by an individual without prior evidence of heart disease. One might experience “heart pounding” or palpitations at a rapid heart rate and possibly irregularity of the heart beat. It is possible also to experience lightheadedness and in some instances an episode of fainting.

Several studies have related this symptom to moderate or heavy alcohol drinking and it frequently occurs after a weekend of holiday binge drinking. The cardiac evaluation usually results in finding a fast heart rhythm (frequently atrial fibrillation which is usually a rapid and irregular heart beat). Some studies found that in over thirty-five percent of new patients with atrial fibrillation in people less than sixty five years old the cause is heavy alcohol consumption. Frequently this syndrome resolves spontaneously if there is no prior history of atrial fibrillation or heart disease and with abstinence from further alcohol consumption.

Dr. Steven Reisman a New York City Cardiologist and Director of The New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center recommends against heavy alcohol binge drinking and if these symptoms should occur one should seek immediate medical attention.