Holiday drinking can lead to irregular heartbeat

    The holiday eating season officially kicked off on Thanksgiving, along with the usual warnings for people with heart conditions to make smart choices at the table.  Add to that the question of what you should quaff from a cup.

    Fat-laden gravy and sodium-rich stuffing have dieticians like Nicole Patience, with Temple University, crying “moderation” around this time of year.

    “Unfortunately our health conditions don’t take a holiday even though it might be a holiday on the calendar,” Patience said. But heart health isn’t just about being careful about the food on the table. The effects alcohol has on the brain and liver are well-known. More attention should be paid to what a day of heavy drinking can do to your heart, according to Dr. Irving Herling, a heart specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. The impact can be serious even for people who have never had heart issues before. “Physicians have recognized that patients who have partied come in to see their doctors say on a Monday morning after a weekend of alcoholic excess with irregularities of their heartbeat,” Herling said. “It’s a common phenomenon” Alcohol increases the body’s sensitivity to its own adrenaline. That can lead to a racing heartbeat that continues for days after drinking, and can cause light-headedness or even fainting. The condition isn’t usually serious, but the irregular beating can cause blood clots, which can in turn lead to stroke. Herling says this problem crops up more often among occasional drinkers who overdo it during the holidays.  Compared to chronic drinkers, their bodies are less good at metabolizing alcohol.  Herling says anyone experiencing rapid heartbeat or dizziness should contact a doctor.

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