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From holiday dinner table to emergency room

Published On: Nov 14 2011 03:37:55 PM CST
Updated On: Oct 28 2013 11:51:08 AM CDT
emergency room


(NewsUSA) - Holiday gatherings are fraught with peril. The average Thanksgiving meal is 3,000 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise. Alcohol consumption is heavier than usual. Frantic travel agendas often result in forgetting to pack medications. A houseful of diverse personalities creates stress for the host family.

"Overindulging, traveling and the stress of entertaining have health consequences," said Niten Singh, MD, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery. "After Thanksgiving dinner, hospital emergency rooms brim with overstuffed and over-served guests."

Heavy alcohol consumption can trigger a condition known as Holiday Heart Syndrome. This is an abnormal heart rhythm also referred to as atrial fibrillation. Persons who experience this condition have an increased risk of stroke.

Heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath and chest discomfort are stroke symptoms. Often, stroke patients exhibit one or more of these risk factors:

* Blood pressure over 135/85
* Cigarette smoking
* Heavy alcohol consumption
* High cholesterol
* Diabetes
* Not exercising half hour daily
* High sodium (salt) diet
* Blood circulation problems

Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. -- 137,000 Americans died of stroke in 2010, according to the National Vital Statistics Report.

"We see a lot of stroke patients during the holiday season," said Dr. Singh. A 2004 study in the medical journal "Circulation" reported that there are 5 percent more heart-related deaths during the holiday season.

Daily exercise, a healthy diet, not smoking and a healthy body weight are proactive measures against vascular disease. Non-invasive tests can screen for vascular disease, and medications can help control it.

"The holidays are a perfect time to announce to family and friends your decision to cut back on calories, alcohol and cigarettes," said Dr. Singh. "Then, invite them to join you on a new holiday tradition -- after-dinner walks."

Additional vascular health information is available at

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