Santa Barbara
58° F
Santa Maria
49° F
San Luis Obispo
55° F
52° F

Self-care steps can keep heart healthy over holidays

Published On: Dec 18 2013 02:01:27 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 02 2014 10:52:09 AM CST
ekg with heart and stethoscope

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Heart attacks, along with heart problems in general, are more common around the holidays. Various factors can play into this, including stress, travel, changes in diet and disrupted schedules. Fortunately, many self-care steps can help keep your heart healthy.

One of the biggest challenges this time of year is healthy eating. For people with heart problems, choosing a heart-healthy diet amid an abundance of holiday foods can be daunting. But not straying too far from your normal diet is important. Keep portion sizes reasonable and limit fatty foods. Eating too much can lead to chest pain or shortness of breath in some people with heart problems. Drink small amounts of alcohol, if any, as alcohol can raise your risk for heart rhythm problems and heart attack. Men should not drink more than two alcoholic beverages a day. Women should not have more than one.

Watch the amount of salt, or sodium, you consume. If your heart pumping function is reduced or if you have heart failure, your ability to manage fluid and to process salt is diminished. To limit fluid retention in such cases, a low-salt diet is often recommended. Controlling salt can be hard, however, when you eat out or dine at someone else's home. Ask the cook if he or she might limit the amount of salt added. Find out which foods are lower in salt. Limit gravies and sauces.

Travel and schedule changes also can be barriers to heart health during the holidays. Staying on schedule with your medications can be hard when you switch time zones or when you are away from your daily routines. But taking your medication as prescribed is critical. Set up reminders to yourself or ask someone to help keep you on track. If you are planning to travel to another time zone, ask your pharmacist if medication schedule changes are necessary.

As much as possible, continue the self-care you do at home. For example, if you weigh yourself every day to help maintain your fluid balance, find a scale where you can do that. If a walk is part of your routine, invite your family to go with you and enjoy some company along with the exercise.

Finally, it is important to keep stress in check. Increased stress can raise a person's risk for a heart attack. We think of the holiday season as a happy time, but that isn't always reality. For some people, the holidays can be sad and stressful. If that is your situation, try to give yourself a break. Plan and do what is reasonable. If you have feelings of sadness or depression that last more than two weeks, see your doctor.

If you start to feel sick, seek help. Don't ignore symptoms because you feel badly about disrupting a holiday gathering. Tell someone right away if you notice new or changing chest discomfort, especially if it radiates to your back or to your arm, neck or jaw. Other symptoms of heart problems include shortness of breath, feeling clammy or light-headed, an irregular heartbeat, and swelling in your legs. Getting medical help is particularly critical if these symptoms last or if they don't improve after taking your usual medications.

The holidays are a high-risk time for heart problems, especially in people who have existing heart conditions. Pay attention to your body. As much as possible, stick to a heart-healthy lifestyle. And, above all, if you have symptoms of heart problems, ask for help right away.

Sharonne Hayes, M.D., Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.



The views expressed are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms Of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. 
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Triple Fatal Auto Accident on Highway

    3 Dead In Early Morning Accident, Driver Arrested For DUI

    The 101 southbound through Santa Barbara reopened just before 12:30 Monday afternoon as authorities investigate what they say was a deadly two car DUI accident.

  • Witnesses to Fatal Crash

    Eyewitnesses See Triple Fatal Crash from Roadside Camp

    A homeless couple watching the freeway from their campsite in Santa Barbara this morning, witnessed the triple fatal accident that took the lives of two teens and a young man.

  • Triple Fatal Auto Accident on Highway

    DUI Driver in Fatal Early Morning Accident Ordered to Detox Program in 1995

    The Santa Barbara woman arrested for DUI in the early morning accident that left three people dead early Monday morning has a lengthy court record out of Ventura County. Kimberly Kreis, 52, was ordered to serve 30 days in a detox program as far back as 1995.

    The car that Kreis was driving crashed into a disabled Mazda near the Castillo off-ramp of the southbound 101 freeway in Santa Barbara. Two 17 year old North Torrance High School students were killed in the accident- Jessica Leffew and Danielle Murillo. 20 year old Brian Lopez also died in the wreck. The driver of the Mazda, Eric August, is hospitalized in critical condition.

    A NewsChannel 3 investigation found records out of Ventrua County that appear to show that Greis has at least one prior conviction involving drugs and or alcohol, and in 1995 she was ordered to serve 30 days in a Cottage Hospital detox program.

    CHP investigators are still trying to piece together why the Mazda veered right into a guardrail, causing it to flip onto it's roof before coming to rest in the middle of the southbound freeway, which set into motion the deadly accident.

    CHP Officer Jonathan Guiterrez, said "A lot of things could have happened, He could have fallen asleep. We just don't know at this point."

  • Santa Barbara Fatal Accident Folo

    Extensive Investigation into Triple Fatal Accident

    An extensive investigation is underway to determine the cause of death in a triple fatal rollover accident Monday morning in Santa Barbara.

  • Parents of Mallory Dies Sue Congresswoman, Her Former Aide, and U.S. Government

    The parents of a young Santa Barbara woman killed in a high profile, DUI case are suing Congresswoman Lois Capps, her former aide Raymond Morua, and the U-S government in federal court.

  • Larry Lee Cal Poly Coach

    Cal Poly Baseball Earns No. 1 National Ranking

    The Mustangs achieved the school's second No. 1 national ranking in Division I as Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has placed Cal Poly atop its Top 30.

  • fuzion_store_business_santa_barbara

    UCSB Group Boycotts Business For Promoting Deltopia

    A UCSB student group is boycotting a local business for creating the Deltopia Facebook page, which they said brought in thousands of outsiders to the small college town.

  • girl_child_coughing_sick_whooping_cough

    Contagious Diseases Making a Comeback in California

    Deadly diseases that were a thing of the past are making a comeback in California.

  • Slideshow: 3 Dead In Early Morning Accident, Driver Arrested For DUI

    The 101 southbound through Santa Barbara reopened just before 12:30 Monday afternoon as authorities investigate what they say was a deadly two car DUI accident.

  • Netflix file

    Brian Snyder/Reuters

    14 alternatives to Netflix

    Out of love with Netflix? Check out these alternatives to the company's instant streaming and DVD-by-mail services.