Between the ubiquitous goody trays, unending to-do lists and stressful travel itineraries, it can be tough to stay on track when it comes to health during the holiday season, whether it’s sticking to a diet or maintaining an exercise regimen.
Such holiday-fueled pressures may also contribute to the fact that the holidays are also the most dangerous time of year for heart attacks.
Research shows deaths from heart attacks peak during December and January, possibly due to changes in diet and alcohol consumption, stress from family interactions, strained finances, travel and entertaining, and respiratory problems from burning wood.
“We tend to exercise less and eat more during the holidays,” said John Osborne, M.D., Ph.D., a Dallas-area preventive cardiologist. “It’s a very stressful time. There’s a lot of emotion attached to the holidays and that can be another factor to why we have more cardiovascular events.”
As the holidays upend routines, taking medications as prescribed can also get lost in the shuffle, Osborne said.
“I can’t tell you how often I get calls from patients who have traveled somewhere and forgot their medications,” he said, adding that he worries more about the patients who don’t contact him. “Some people figure they’ll be fine to be off them for a week or so, but if you start missing medications, that can have a big impact on causing your blood pressure to be out of control.”