Holiday Heart Attacks

POSTED - DECEMBER 6, 2007    5 P.M. CST

JONESBORO - A busy day....

A big meal....

And maybe an eggnog or two.

Now you're not feeling too terrific.

Chalk it up to holiday indigestion?

or should you worry about your heart?

During the holiday season cases of heart attacks increase but it doesn't have to be you.   Studies have shown that there are a lot of factors in involved, such as too much rich food and drink.

Dr. Tony White from the NEA Clinic, "When you eat your heart has to pump extra blood to your internal organs to digest the extra food. So that is a stress on your heart sort of like exercise."

And stress.

White, "The holiday season is stressful, people are traveling, rushing around airports the adrenilin is going, carrying bags, so they have a lot more stress on them if they are traveling. "

And the cold weather plays a part.

White, "Cold weather makes your arteries smaller, makes them contract. If you been out in the cold and got your hands cold you know how it makes them turn white. And thats the arteries getting smaller and getting less blood flow to the hands. And the same thing happens to the inner organs as well to a lesser extent when they are exposed to the cold."

Dr. White says that stressful outside activity such as hunting or shoveling snow or other cold weather activities can bring on an attack.

However research shows that more people are reluctant to rush to the emergency room this time of year.

Dr. Brewer Rhodes, NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, "It's never convenient to be sick and especially during the holidays when you are gathered with your family or you're traveling away from home. It's just inconvenient to be sick and take time out to go to the emergency room to a doctor you don't know to get checked out to see if you really are having a heart attack. "

Convenient or not, for a heart attack, time is of the essence and you should be aware of the symptons.

Rhodes, "It can be very dramatic with all the chest pain shortness of breath, breaking out in a sweat, pain radiating down your arm or in your neck which are all classic signs. It may be something as subtle as being short of breath or not being able to lie down comfortably without being short of breath. Or it can even have absolutely no symptoms at all which we call a silent miocardia."

Most of these symptoms apply to both men and women but women are more apt to have other symptoms particulary shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

And don't neglect your meds.

White, "They don't need to miss their medicines, especially if they know they have a heart problem.missing their medicines and under all this stress. They need to make plans and if they do run off without their medicines they need to figure out a way to get them shipped to them or call in pharmacy where ever they are. "

Rhodes, "Pay attention to what is going on, with your body and if you are having symptoms with your body that are new or suggestive of a heart attack take the time out from your busy schedule to be checked out. "