Some studies have shown that there appears to be an increased incidence of heart attacks around the Christmas and New Year’s season according to Dr. Steven Reisman a Cardiologist in New York City. A heart attack occurs when there is an acute blockage of blood supply and thus oxygen supply in one of the arteries supplying the heart muscle resulting in the death of heart muscle tissue unless this blockage is rapidly opened up and reversed within a few hours of the onset of this symptom. A heart attack can be symptomatic with the development of symptoms such as chest pressure, jaw pain, indigestion like symptoms, shortness of breath, and can also have atypical symptoms such as left arm and back pain. A heart attack can also be without symptoms and then it is known as a “silent” heart attack.
During the holiday season the increase in occurrence of heart attacks is thought to happen because of several reasons. It is well known that cold weather such as strenuous snow shoveling can be a factor constricting blood vessels to the heart and increasing the clotting of blood. Heavy physical exertion can also be a factor in cold weather such as strenuous snow shoveling. In addition, vigorous snow skiing particularly in those who are not in excellent physical shape can also be a related to the increased occurrence of heart attacks. Since the holiday heart attack increase has also been seen in warmer climates, other factors may be at work including psychological factors and also people may delay seeking medical attention even with chest pain because they want to wait until they return home.
According to Dr. Steven Reisman, a Cardiologist in New York City and the Director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center several preventative steps can be taken. Regular exercise is a very important factor especially before skiing or snow shoveling. In addition a heart healthy diet such as a mediterranean diet that includes fiber and omega 3 fatty acid foods is recommended. In particular, no sudden vigorous exercise should be undertaken if the individual is not in shape and one should also wear several layers of warm clothing in cold weather. The prevention of psychological factors such as anger, hostility, and depression is important. It is highly recommended that preventative testing and screening take place before undergoing vacation or vigorous exercise if one is unsure about one’s own risk for heart attack.