Avoiding A Heart Attack ‘American Heart Association. lite is why lished in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association (AHA),the winter holiday seasonis considered a risk factorfor cardiac and noncardiac death. While researchers don't know exactly why heart attacks are more common aroundholidays, they note a numberof possible reasons, including changes in Don’t Wait for a Second: Makea List and Checkit Twice diet and alcohol consumption during the holidays; stress from family interactions, strained finances, travel and entertain- ing; respiratory problems from burning wood; and not paying attention to the signs and symptomsofa heart attack. One Woman's Story Considerthe case ofJulie Rickman, a 41-year-old stay-at-home mom.“Ifelt like we were running around, going ev- erywhere, and I just couldn't catch my breath,’ Rickmansaid. “I remember, two days before Christmas, we thought I was allergic to mylive Christmastree, and we tookit downandgotanartificialtree” The day after Christmas, Rickman got winded while folding laundry. She thoughtit was exhaustion but decided to goto the emergency room, anyway. ‘Thattrip savedher life. Along with two blockages in her heart, doctors also discovered she had suffered a heart attack. “T have noidea whentheheart attack happened.I was one ofthose women who attributedfeeling bad to the holidays and Act nowto prevent anotherheart attack. Visit heart.org/heartattackrecovery to learn more. Research showsdeath from heart attack is highest during December and January—butyou can reduce yourrisk. limits social engagementsandtime spent on social media during the holidays and thinking I was exhausted? she said. makesa consciouseffort to realize beinga supermom mightnotbereality. “The progression of heart disease doesn't happen overnight, so an uptick in cardiac death during the holidays is stress,’ Rickman said.“I don’t try to do it all. I have mylist butit’s not an ongoing list of unrealistic expectations’ Doctor's Advice “The biggest challengeis controlling That's good advice, especially beofthe disease)’ explainedJorge Plutzky, cause people who have had a heart at- actually more the acute manifestations M.D., a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “Factors like cold weather,stress and dietary indiscretion can contribute to a chainofevents leading to morestress on the heart. A cardiac event mightbetriggered because the heart is working harder?” tack are at increased risk of another, addedDr.Plutzky, directorofpreventive cardiology and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’ Hospital in Boston, Mass. “Make sure the holidays dont get in Rickman, now an American Heart Association Go Red For Womenvolun- the way oftaking your medicines and continuing to beattentive to a healthy diet?” hesaid. “But even when the holidays are the holidays andto life. She cut out processed foods andlimits sugar. She also leading threat to America’s health” teer, has since changed her approachto passed, these things continue to be issues all year long because heart disease remains What You Can Do The American Heart Association is helping heartattack survivors learn how to reducethatrisk with a few simple but effective action steps: + Take medicationas directed + Have follow-up doctor's appointment + Complete a cardiac rehabilitation program + Managerisk factors + Developa strong supportsystem. The programis part of the association’s Guideline Transformation and Optimization Initiative and is supported by an educational grant from AstraZeneca. Learn More For further facts and advice about reducing heart attack risk, see www. heart.org/heartattack. To get involved, visit www.heart.org or follow the AHA on Facebook and Twitter.