Holiday Heart:  How Alcohol Affects Your Rhythm

Holiday Heart: How Alcohol Affects Your Rhythm

During the holidays, some may indulge in alcohol, and feel the effects in a way that concerns them.  Modest to heavy intake of alcohol can lead to palpitations and rhythm changes. Due to the greater likelihood to indulge during the holidays, some refer to it as "Holiday Heart". 

It is natural to be scared when our heart beats hard, fast, or even skips beats. This may start suddenly and without other symptoms. This occurs as your body breaks down the alcohol, and the by-products of the metabolism result in changes in the action of cells due to a change in electrolytes such as sodium.  The "fight or flight" chemicals may be signaled to be released, causing the sensation of the heart racing.  This brief, episodic problem is not usually associated with long-term heart problems. Holiday heart goes away within 24 hours of stopping all alcohol intake.

If you have symptoms associated with the change in beats like weakness, sweating, dizziness, chest pressure, arm pain or jaw pain, seek attention immediately.  This is much more serious!  If symptoms of skipped beats or a racing heart persist, seek care.  Any symptoms that worry you are worth your time of seeing your healthcare provider, so don't ignore it.

*On a side note, disruption of the normal heart rhythm has also been seen when marijuana is used in excess.

 

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/155050-overview#a5

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