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Heart attacks seem to increase around the holidays. Here are some reasons why.

A yellow and blue ambulance outside a hospital.
Gabriel C. Pérez

The holidays can be fun. But doctors also see an increase in some medical emergencies this time of year. Cardiac problems like strokes, heart attacks and irregular heartbeat, for example, all seem to increase between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Dr. Vivek Goswami, a cardiologist with the Heart Hospital of Austin, says doctors used to blame cold weather on the uptick in heart-related ER visits. But research has painted a more detailed picture for them and pointed to possible solutions.

So, what are some reasons?

For one, people might forget important medication while they travel or fall out of their normal exercise routines.

Those things “could lead to an imbalance," Goswami says, "and this can exacerbate various cardiac conditions.”

The physical stress of travel and potential emotional stress of the holidays may also play a role. Then there’s all that eating and drinking that often comes with the holidays.

“Enjoy your time with your friends and family,” he says. “But taking things in moderation is a key point.”

Goswami worries that sometimes people are reluctant to disrupt family gatherings even if they should be seeking medical help.

“If you do have symptoms, get checked out,” he says.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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