Watch Your Heart Over the Holidays, During Snow Season
Wisconsin News Connection is here.
MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Research from the American Heart Association says cardiac mortality is highest during December and January. Doctors point to holiday stress - and shoveling snow.
The researchers say people may delay seeking treatment when they're busy with friends and family.
Cardiologist Dr. Louie Kostopoulos of Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center says it's never smart to hide symptoms of a heart attack. And he warns against what can happen when folks with hidden risks suddenly do hard physical work - like clearing snow, out in the cold. "Having a sedentary lifestyle most of the year and then, suddenly getting out in the cold weather," says Kostopoulos, "cold weather can trigger the heart vessels spasm. The heart rate accelerates, the blood pressures can rise. The physical demands to remove a good chunk of snow, that's a worrisome thing."
Kostopoulos says the holidays can also be emotionally stressful, another risk factor for heart disease. The Heart Association says everyone should be aware of their individual risk factors and discuss them with their doctor. Kostopoulos adds that people should know and watch for the signs of a heart attack. "Know your individual risk factors - high blood pressure, diabetes, those who've smoked, those who have high cholesterol, or those with a strong family history," says Kostopoulos. "Understand what the symptoms are, recognize them early, and know what to do if you have a suspicion of those symptoms - such as telling somebody, telling a loved one."
He adds it's worth keeping an eye on those holiday drinks and treats. He says changes in diet and alcohol consumption can also be a concern, depending on the person.