Did you know that the number of heart attacks spikes during the holiday season? Most noticeably during Christmas and New Year’s day?
Last year I lost a dear friend to heart disease. It was a year ago this week. No one saw it coming. She was in her forties, active, with a seemingly clean bill of health. She left behind two beautiful young boys and community of friends and family who loved her. It was heartbreaking to say the least.
She inspires me to live each day to the fullest and to continually live outside my comfort zone. Her life ended way too soon.
We hear this story all too often, don’t we? With all we do to stay healthy, with all the miracle pills, medical testing and expertise at our disposal; people still fall victim to heart attacks that seem to come out of no where.
With the holiday traditions of traveling, stressful family gatherings, digging further into debt, binge eating and drinking, it can be all to easy to write off a warning sign as just another “symptom of the season”.
Just recently heart disease has affected me again, but it is a little too fresh, a little too soon for me to share right now. Anyway, obviously this topic is deeply personal to me and I felt compelled to get the word out. I’ve scoured the Internet and books for answers, and came up with a list of heart disease symptoms that most people would ignore.
This isn’t a complete list, and I am not a doctor. So if you have chest pains or shortness of breath obviously call 911! I hope you will take a moment to read them, pass them on, and hopefully we will save some lives this year.
Many heart attack victims report feelings of intense anxiety or impending doom, prior to an episode. I believe this is your heart’s way of engaging your mind to say, warning! Warning! Something bad is about to go down, get help.
2. Lack of appetite
It’s easy to get tired of eating so much rich food this time of year. Heck, by mid-December the idea of a juice fast starts to sound pretty good…for a few minutes anyway. But if your lack of appetite becomes persistent, it’s probably worth a check up.
3. Memory loss and confusion
Another easy one to chock up to holiday stress, and something we may not recognize in ourselves. So take notice if relatives and friends are forgetting important holiday events or acting out of character.
This is often mistaken as a symptom of too much alcohol. But if your shoes don’t fit and you’re having any of these other symptoms it may be worth a trip to the doctor for a check up.
5. Pneumonia or fluid in the lungs
Obviously you can’t ignore pneumonia! However, pulmonary edema is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia or fluid in the lungs. People can sit for days or weeks in the hospital before doctors figure it out. So if you have shortness of breath or fluid in your lungs that antibiotics won’t clear, insist on being checked for pulmonary edema. Early detection is the key.
If it’s minus ten outside and you break out in a cold sweat, take notice. For women this may be mistaken for hot flashes, so pay attention to any other unusual symptoms you might be experiencing.
7. Stomach pain/Indigestion
According to WebMD, this can go on for DAYS before an actual heart attack. If stomach pain or indigestion doesn’t go away with normal treatment (this is not a time to just keep popping probiotics and digestive enzymes) go see your physician ASAP.
I hope these holiday heart smart tips were as enlightening to you as they were to me. And remember, just because you haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease doesn’t mean you may not have heart problems. Early detection and prevention are essential, so give your family and friends an early present—a healthy YOU—and schedule a preventative check up this month.
For even more helpful tips on heart health, I recommend visiting: http://piedmont.org/medical-
Health is the greatest gift of all, protect yours this holiday…and every day!
Make heart healthy choices…
just for the health of it!