Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Maintain good heart health

Published:Wednesday | December 14, 2022 | 12:31 AM

The holiday season is a time of excitement and anticipation, but the cold weather, change in routine and increase in stress can also increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. In fact, recent studies show an increase in the number of deaths from heart attack and stroke over the holidays, specifically on Christmas Day, December 26, and New Year’s Day.Cold weather constricts your arteries and causes your heart to work harder. Make sure you have proper clothing and gear for outdoor activities, and use good judgement and caution when working around the home.

Healthy eating and even medications can take a hit during the holiday season. Account for any changes in your schedule and plan ahead so you can stick to some, if not all of your exercise routine.

People tend to overindulge during the holiday season, but you can use strategies, such as filling half your plate with vegetables, eating smaller meals throughout the day or eating at a slower pace to control the number of calories you consume. RE-EVALUATE YOUR SCHEDULEThough the invitations are piling up and your to-do list never seems to end, make it a priority to get to bed on time. Getting enough sleep will help you manage stress and even burn calories.

Most importantly, remember to take your medication, including statins and blood thinners. If you are not following your regular routine, keep your medications available by carrying them with you. It is also important to schedule and keep recommended medical appointments. Follow your doctor’s recommendation for flu shots and other immunizations to avoid illnesses that may put stress on your heart.

Family, overspending and over-commitment are just a few of many possible holiday stressors. Identify a support person in advance who can help you during difficult times, whether you are dealing with a loss or managing challenging family relationships.

Share the responsibilities of cooking, hosting or shopping when possible.

And, most importantly, be realistic when looking at your calendar about the amount of time you are able to commit to something.

Binge drinking can cause atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heartbeat that can lead to heart failure or stroke. Hidden calories in cocktails, juices and punch also add up very quickly, so consume alcohol and other sweetened beverages in moderation.

If you missed a day of exercise, stayed out too late, or double-booked your calendar, allow yourself the opportunity to take a step back, re-evaluate your schedule, and recommit to making decisions that are healthier for your mind, body and heart; it is the best gift you can give yourself, and those you love, during any season.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com

Source - Heart Foundation of Jamaica