How to manage your heart health while on vacation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) — A new study from the American Heart Association shows that more people die of heart attacks in the last week of December than at any other time of year.

The most wonderful time of the year can quickly become the most tragic time for many people. Planning, shopping and preparing meals can add a lot of pressure to someone’s plate.

We spoke to Dr. Malcolm Foster, Director of the Vascular Laboratory at Tennova, Turkey Creek Medical Center. He told us how, sadly, your first heart attack could be your last.

“We think it’s kind of the perfect storm, so there’s holiday cheer, but there’s holiday stress and there’s winter holiday weather. Unfortunately, people have a higher number of heart attacks and sudden cardiovascular deaths in late December,” Dr. Foster said.

Dr. Foster told WVLT News how the weather plays a big role in increasing cardiovascular disease during the winter months.

“Cold weather puts some stress on the heart, and if the person is susceptible, then during those cold weather months they are more likely to have a heart attack,” Dr Foster explained.

The AHA encourages everyone to put their health first, even during the hectic holiday season. Additionally, everyone should learn CPR; it’s the best way to help prevent a heart attack when it happens.

“We really encourage you to lower your stress levels and do the healthy things that you need to do, which is to watch your numbers and watch your blood pressure, watch your blood sugar, watch your weight. Try to keep your weight off while on vacation, it’s not easy, but it can be done.

Dr. Foster and the AHA suggested that people try to get out and exercise or move their bodies as much as possible. Limiting your consumption of alcohol or tobacco is another way.

“People who have risk factors, for example, we really encourage them to see their doctor and get tested to try to catch coronary heart disease early and at an early age because we can make a difference and, hopefully never have a heart attack if we intervene early.

Diet and exercise are key ways to improve your heart health. If you can in any way this holiday season, doctors suggest trying to keep your stress levels low even during the crazy times of the holiday season.

If you are at high risk, including high blood pressure or high blood sugar, you should talk to your doctor and consider getting screened.

Dr. Foster said if you have symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately or find the nearest hospital.

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