Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to Holiday heart syndrome

MBOMBELA- Holiday heart syndrome or HHS is a condition which traditionally occurs over the festive period, when people who do not usually experience heart disease suffer from irregular heart rhythms after heavy alcohol consumption.

Spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, Nicole Jennings, expertly provided some insight into the nature of the condition saying, “Holiday heart syndrome is typically associated with the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. It can cause acute cardiovascular effects such as heartbeat irregularities, shortness of breath and chest pain.”

Those with HHS may experience the following irregular heart rhythms:

  • Atrial fibrillation or AF: Characterised by heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath. This is the most common type of irregular heart rhythm associated with this disease.
  • Atrial flutter: Characterised by a fast heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute.
  • Ventricular ectopy: Occurs when your heart skips a beat.

According to Jennings, HHS can be reversed. “Abstaining from alcohol for a while is usually the recommended treatment for HHS. You should also see a doctor. The doctor will be able to check for a dangerous drop in blood pressure or signs of acute heart failure. It’s better to always err on the side of caution when it relates to the health of your heart,”

It is also advisable to monitor the amount of alcohol which you consume. The Association for Responsible Alcohol Use released information on the quantities of alcohol in popular alcoholic beverages. These quantities are as follows

  • 340ml malt beer (at a typical 5% alcohol by volume) contains 12g of alcohol
  • 340ml cider (at a typical 6% alcohol by volume) contains 16g of alcohol
  • 25ml tot of brandy, whisky, gin, cane or vodka (at a typical 43% alcohol by volume) contains 11g of alcohol
  • 120ml glass of wine (at a typical 12% alcohol by volume) contains 11g of alcohol. Based on a Swedish study, red wine and spirits tend to produce more episodes of arrhythmia than white wine.

According to Jennings there is a number of things you can do to reduce the stress on your heart during the festive period. These include:

  1. Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, especially if you suffer from heart disease or are at an increased risk of developing heart disease.
  2. Limiting the amount that you eat and reducing your salt intake. Salt can lead to water retention as well as an high blood pressure. This can place you at greater risk of suffering from a heart attack.
  3. Limiting your  intake of coffee, energy drinks and fizzy drinks. These drinks contain caffeine. In some cases caffeine can act as a stimulant and can cause atrial fibrillation.
  4. Reducing your stress levels by doing exercise and meditation and by sleeping sufficiently. Stress leads to an increase in cortisol in the body. This can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
  5. Staying hydrated.

Information by Meropa Communications on behalf of Pharma Dynamics.

Keegan Frances

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