INDIANAPOLIS -- We think of Thanksgiving as a time to fill our hearts with gratitude, but what we may unknowingly be doing is damaging our hearts with our overindulgence and stress.
St. Vincent Medical Group cardiologist Dr. Jennifer Cowger says her workload increases during the holidays because of a phenomenon she calls “Holiday Heart.”
“The incident of arrhythmias or heart rythym abnormalities are increased, emergency room visits for heart attacks and especially those individuals out there with heart failure have increased hospitalizations during the holidays,” she said.
So what’s a person to do? Cowger says her best advice – especially for those with heart issues or at-risk for heart issues – is everything in moderation.
“Eat your saltier meals in smaller proportions. Watch the alcohol you take in. Maybe substitute it for water – flavored water," she suggested. "Very importantly, get sleep. If you have an older family member – or you are an older individual – you need to have the confidence to say, 'Okay, it’s getting late. Everybody’s gotta go.' Or, ask for help.”
Cowger says don’t just lie around after the Thanksgiving meal. “Grab your spouse, grab your dog, grab your kids – go outside and walk. It’s still lovely weather outside – it’s a little cooler – but certainly getting a little bit of exercise is invigorating," she insisted. "And it hopefully will help boost your metabolism for that moment.”
Cowger’s prescription for this holiday season is put your health first – more sleep, more exercise and moderation with food and drink.