During this time of year when the focus should be all about family, fun and the joy of having survived another one (year that is), there looms an annual health challenge that can ruin all the plans and hopes of the season.

The Christmas/New Year’s season is also the peak of heart attack season. It’s been known for a long time that the instance of heart attacks is higher in the winter than any other season, but recent studies
have shown a marked increase in and around the holidays.

This should really come as no surprise if you analyze the risk factors for heart attacks and stack them next to the normal Christmas season. It doesn’t seem like a time of year when stress should creep into our lives, but more than any other time of the year, it does. The stress of entertaining, stretching your budget, and if you’re in business, dealing with the stress of year end issues, can all add up.

Add to that the insanity of the Christmas season diet and you’re beginning a cardiac slide. First we all eat more than we normally do during this time of year. On the surface it doesn’t seem like a few weeks of packing it in ought to make that much difference, but consider for a moment what we pack in. Turkey and ham are high fat, high salt foods. Chocolate, while good for us in small amounts, is generally attacked en masse at this time of year. And Baclava seems to have been invented to clog arteries.

Add to that the tendency to celebrate. Yes, a bit more drinking than usual happens in December. When you factor it all together, it isn’t going to stop the heart of someone who starts the season with no cardiac risk factors, but if a person has a few factors working against them already, this can be the push over the edge.

Bottom line. Approach the season with a plan for moderation. All the temptations will be there. They are every year. Take the time to breathe deep, enjoy the love and especially the children. Don’t push things and make this a time of year when your family and I have to discuss the other end of life insurance. Have a blessed Christmas.

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