Reasons Why the Holidays Cause Heart Attacks

Are you worried about eating too much of the wrong food over the holidays? Do you ever feel glad it’s winter because you can hide under more clothes?

Maybe this time of year is when you start thinking after the holidays you’ll eat healthier. You’re definitely not alone. Holidays can wreak havoc on our health through unhealthy habits leading to inflammation in our arteries, which can cause a heart attack.

What is the single highest day of the year for heart attacks?

Research studies show the risk for heart attack jumps at the end of the year and the single highest day for heart attacks is December 25. Doctors call the phenomenon the Christmas Coronary or Happy New Year Heart Attack [Ref 1]. These are more lethal than they sound.

A few years ago when I worked in the hospital as a practicing anesthesiologist, it was apparent that we treated more cardiac patients at the end of the year. Most of them were also experiencing diabetes and high blood pressure. I was amazed at the number of stents and heart surgery cases we could add to the already full schedule. Patients seemed to come out of nowhere. I’m sad to say that not everyone made it. Many patients had such massive heart attacks, they died before getting to the operating room. It’s really tragic because most heart attacks are preventable.

There are several reasons why you might be at risk. Here are some of them:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise

Unhealthy habits to change to avoid your risk of heart attack

  • Smoking
  • Overeating-binge eating during the holidays is very common as well as craving the unhealthy foods.
  • Sugar reduce your sugar intake to a minimum or none at all [Ref 2].
  • High-fat food (animal foods)
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Inadequate rest and exercise
  • Ignoring symptoms-it is easy to mistake a heart attack for indigestion.

There is still hope to lower your risk

Amazing studies show that clogged arteries are potentially reversible on a whole food plant-based diet [Ref 3].

Conventional approaches mainly focus on masking heart disease with medication and providing aggressive crisis management. But the most effective way to prevent heart disease is through healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits. We’ve got to make better decisions in order to make a healthy start of the New Year.

Optimal nutrition, physical activity, and stress reduction are vital to your health. Follows these tips and gain peace of mind as you enter the new year.



1 Kloner RA. The Merry Christmas Coronary and Happy New Year Heat Attack Phenomenon. Circulation. 2004 Dec 21;110(25):3744-5.
2 The Sweet Danger of Sugar. Harvard Health Publishing. May 2017
3 Esselstyn CB Jr, Gendy G, Doyle J, Golubic M, Roizen MF. J Fam Pract. 2014 Jul;63(7):356-364b.

By |2019-05-29T14:10:09-05:00December 10th, 2018|Recommendations & Thoughts|0 Comments

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About the Author:

Dr. Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a certified integrative health coach, speaker, and corporate wellness consultant. She helps busy people develop healthier lifestyle habits and use plant-based nutrition so they can heal themselves. She provides educational information through her health coaching services and an online course on diabetes. In addition she is an engaging speaker on the subject of plant-based food and healthy lifestyle habits that improve health, energy and productivity. In her prior career she practiced anesthesiology for 21 years. In the midst of that career she overcame personal health challenges by adopting a plant-based lifestyle. Also, she observed that most of her patients were suffering from preventable complications of chronic lifestyle diseases. From those experiences she is motivated to teach people how to take full control of their health through better eating and lifestyle habits.

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