holiday drinking at Thanksgiving

Holiday Drinking — Know Your Limits for a Healthy Heart

The holidays can be a stressful time. Heavy workloads, rushing to find the best deals online, figuring out how to safely celebrate the season without gathering in person… it can be a lot to handle. Coupled with actually enjoying the season, it’s no wonder many Americans indulge a bit more in the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

All that stress and alcohol consumption can put a serious strain on our hearts. Here’s what you should know about holiday heart syndrome and how to prevent it from being part of your holidays.

What Is Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Holiday heart syndrome is an irregular heartbeat caused by excess drinking along with stress and dehydration. Most frequently it causes atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that you might know as "afib" that carries an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Who Is At Risk for Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Anyone who overindulges in alcohol during the holidays is at risk — even if they don’t have a history of heart disease. If you'd like to learn more about your risk for heart issues, try our quick online heart health quiz or schedule a heart scan at a clinic near you.

Take the Heart Quiz  Schedule a Heart Scan

What Does Holiday Heart Syndrome Feel Like?

You might notice your heartbeat racing or beating irregularly after binge drinking. If you have any of the following symptoms too, call 911 for help immediately.

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness

Our heart and vascular experts are here to help. Get cardiovascular care by requesting an appointment. With our accredited, fully-integrated heart and vascular programs available at all Community hospitals, we are the best choice in Central Indiana when it comes to matters of the heart.

What Can I Do to Stave Off Holiday Heart Syndrome?

There’s good news — holiday heart syndrome isn’t permanent. It goes away on its own once the excess alcohol leaves your system.

This may not be the most fun answer, but drinking in moderation can truly help reduce your risk and keep your holidays healthy.

In a span of 2 hours, keep yourself to fewer than 4 drinks if you’re a woman or fewer than 5 drinks if you’re a man. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • A serving of wine is 5 fluid ounces. There are 5 servings in a bottle of wine, so keep an eye on the bottle to gauge how much you’ve had.
  • A standard serving of beer is 12 fluid ounces. Generally that holds true for any beer around 5% alcohol by volume (ABV). If the beer contains greater than 8% ABV, limit your serving to 10 fluid ounces or less.
  • A cocktail contains around 1.5 fluid ounces of liquor. That’s the equivalent of one shot. If your cocktail contains more than one shot, count it as more than one drink.

If you need support for the stressful holiday season, talk to a licensed behavioral health therapist at Community. Schedule a safe and convenient virtual visit from home.