Friends and relatives from near and far often travel to be together during the holidays. As a result, many of us partake in more alcoholic beverages than is customary during holiday celebrations.

However, cardiac damage can occur during episodes of heavy drinking. In particular, they can trigger periods of cardiac rhythm irregularities like holiday heart syndrome (HHS).

In this post, we’ll look at what can bring on holiday heart syndrome and how to protect yourself.

Understanding Holiday Heart Syndrome (HHS)

Spending time with loved ones during the holidays is therapeutic. But “holiday heart syndrome,” caused by excessive eating and drinking during a party, might dampen your spirits.

Holiday heart syndrome is an irregular or abnormal heartbeat linked to binge drinking. This condition is most common during the winter holidays when celebrations peak and people share lots of alcoholic beverages.

Though the name would imply otherwise, this condition is not limited to celebrations. People who drink too much may be at risk for “holiday heart syndrome.”

Unfortunately, too much alcohol increases your heart rate and could even lead to cardiac arrest. Your risk of this condition increases with the presence of preexisting cardiac complications. Stroke or heart failure are among the more dire outcomes of holiday heart syndrome

What Causes Holiday Heart Syndrome?

However, while those with previous heart problems are more prone to encounter HHS, anyone can be affected.

Cookies, sweets, and fatty dishes tend to appear out of nowhere over the holidays, and that’s fine with many folks. But it’s not just one dinner; it’s an entire season of celebrations centered on food and wine that stands out from your regular days.

The availability of food all the time also contributes to our greedy tendencies. During this time, there is usually a lot of food around. If this is the case, you can find yourself eating many meals that are not a heart-healthy diet.

Here are some of the causes:

Excess alcohol

Too much alcohol can damage your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. Drinking to excess is associated with an increased risk of cardiomyopathy.

Image alt text: alcohol flush symptoms due to excessive alcohol which can lead to holiday heart syndrome.

Author credit: By Aleans365 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Diet Choices

Of course, you can become healthy through your diet. However, wrong choices of meals could be dangerous to your heart health.

Heart disease and its accompanying disorders, such as atherosclerosis, have been linked to a diet heavy in trans fats, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Also, high blood pressure, which could lead to heart complications, has been linked to a diet high in sodium (salt).

Why You May Experience a Racing Heart after Alcohol Consumption

Holiday heart syndrome is associated with various forms of dysrhythmia:

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial flutter
  • Premature ventricular contractions

There appears to be no link between drinking alcohol in moderation and an increased risk of dysrhythmias. However, numerous studies have indicated that atrial fibrillation risk is elevated in those who regularly engage in heavy or binge drinking.

People without structural heart problems are more likely to have rhythm abnormalities, and after alcohol use is stopped, the issue usually goes away within 24 hours.

Indications of HHS

With this condition, you may catch up with distant relatives while sipping wine and snacking on appetizers or sweets, then the following signs and symptoms will manifest in the next few seconds.

  • Anxiety, stress, or pain felt in the chest.
  • Fatigue or inability to muster much enthusiasm.
  • Drowsiness; a sensation of being unsteady on one’s feet; vertigo.
  • Heart palpitations are an uncomfortable and often frightening sensation of rapid, irregular heartbeats.

Individuals with no history of heart illness may have symptoms, such as a fluttering sensation in the chest, due to an abnormal heart rhythm.

How Worried Should You Be aboutHHS?

A stroke caused by blood clots is a major danger for people with atrial fibrillation (AFib). The holiday season can bring on uncomfortable heart symptoms like chest discomfort, palpitations, and dizziness, and a stroke is severe. Consequently, what should you do if you think you develop HHS?

Simply put, your risk factors and medical history determine everything.Instead of taking any chances with your heart, you should check your history of cardioissues.Another red flag is chest pain that lasts longer than 20 minutes; at this point, you should consider seeking medical attention, which may involve going to the emergency room.

Fortunately, holiday heart syndrome is reversible, and it is commonly accepted that the symptoms disappear as alcohol use ceases.

When anything happens in your body, the heart is the first organ to respond. In other words, your heart will be the first organ to tell you something is wrong if you’ve been drinking heavily.

Therefore, if you experience even a brief episode of palpitations, dizziness, or lightheadedness around the holidays, you must follow up with your doctor to discuss getting tested for atrial fibrillation.

Diagnosing Holiday Heart Syndrome

Occasional or persistent palpitations are the first sign of vacation heart syndrome. Dyspnea, dizziness, and chest pain are all symptoms that a patient with a high ventricular rate could experience. Recent binge drinking and other indicators of alcohol intoxication are also present in the examination.

How to Prevent the Cases of Holiday Heart Syndrome

The following procedures may be of assistance in avoiding an HHS incident in the future.

Have Moderate Food and Drinks

Eat hearty meals before the party, or take a nutritious snack with you, and you’ll be less likely to overindulge. Better yet, strive to make the appropriate dietary choices and steer clear of saturated fats and fried and salty foods. However, the risk of heart disease can be drastically reduced by eating a diet high in fiber and plant foods and low in saturated fats.

Also, since drinking alcohol is the direct cause of holiday heart sickness, being sober is the only guaranteed way to prevent being plagued by its unpleasant effects.

Get Moving

It’s crucial to keep up with your regular exercise routine, even during the holidays. Maintaining a regular exercise regimen is essential for maintaining heart health and lessening your chances of heart complications. Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life will decrease if you take care of yourself physically and emotionally over the holidays.

Keep Your Cool

It’s natural to feel anxious during this time of year. Although this is to be expected, it should be kept in check. Make room in your schedule to unwind and pursue personal interests. Your heart health can benefit from doing this.

Here are some simple strategies that would help prevent holiday stress:

Make preparations in advance: It can be challenging to fit all your desired holiday activities.

However, putting together a plan of action has been shown to reduce anxiety. Making a list of everything you desire can help you figure out what needs your immediate attention. Keeping a list can also help ensure you don’t forget anything crucial.

Attend to your own needs first: During this time of year, when we focus so intently on others’ generosity, it’s common to forget the importance of making a personal gift to yourself. Putting your needs first can free you up to better serve those around you.

Create a schedule that includes time for leisure activities. You should make time for yourself, whether it’s to go for a run, arrange a date night, or enjoy some fresh air. Don’t discount the value of getting enough sleep every night, either.

Manage your money responsibly:Be practical about your expenditures if you’re concerned about their impact on your finances after the holidays. The thought that goes into a present outweighs its monetary value.

Put together a spending plan, and then follow it. Stay moderate with your spending; if you can’t afford to buy anything for your loved ones, make them a homemade treat instead.


Overindulging in alcoholic beverages when commemorating a holiday or other special occasion might result in more than simply a hangover the next day. Even in those who otherwise have healthy hearts, binge drinking can cause irregular heartbeats and sometimes stroke or heart failure. Therefore, consider moderate drinking and watch out for your diet because some meals you take during the holidays might not suit your heart health.