WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Huge meals and unhealthy
foods, heavy drinking and stress can increase the risk of heart
problems and stroke over the holidays, an expert warns.
For example, the average Thanksgiving meal has 3,000 calories
and 229 grams of fat, according to the American Council on
"Overindulging, traveling, and the stress of entertaining has health consequences," Dr. Niten Singh, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery, said in a society news release. "After Thanksgiving dinner, hospital emergency rooms brim with overstuffed and over-served guests."
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a condition known as
Holiday Heart Syndrome. It's caused by an abnormal heart rhythm
called atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke.
"We see a lot of stroke patients during the holiday season," Singh said.
A 2004 study in the journal
Circulation found that heart-related deaths increase 5
percent during the holiday season, Singh noted in the news
People can lower their risk of heart problems and stroke by
exercising daily, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and
maintaining a healthy body weight, the expert suggested.
"The holidays are a perfect time to announce to family and friends your decision to cut back on calories, alcohol and cigarettes," Singh said. "Then, invite them to join you on a new Thanksgiving tradition -- an after-dinner walk."
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a
guide to a healthy heart.