Dr AFib – What is Holiday Heart Syndrome?

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There’s this kind of strange phenomenon called the Holiday Heart. When everyone eats their salted pork, drink their beer, then they just go into this rhythm heart failure atrial fibrillation for a while.

This video describes Holiday Heart Syndrome and precautions for patients with atrial fibrillation during the holidays.


Thank you for visiting Dr. AFib, I am Dr. Morales. In today’s video segment we are going to be talking about holiday heart syndrome with Christmas just around the corner. Back in the late 1970’s doctors began to describe holiday heart syndrome as an irregular heart rhythm. This was predominantly atrial fibrillation, which was brought particularly around the holidays or long weekends.

It was deemed to be directly due to binge drinking. Now there are a lot of theories about why that happened. There are some theories about the direct toxicity of high alcohol levels in your body that directly lead to the episode of atrial fibrillation, but also the dehydration that comes with binge drinking can also cause atrial fibrillation.

I’ve had to work in the hospital several times over the holiday weekends and there are a lot of people who get episodes of atrial fibrillation during holiday weekends. So, is binge drinking the only reason why people can get episodes of atrial fibrillation over the holidays? Alcohol certainly plays a big component. It’s probably one of the strongest reasons why people get episodes of atrial fibrillation over a holiday, possible from the toxicities of alcohol itself, but also the dehydration that comes with alcohol use as well.

But also what can lead to episodes of atrial fibrillation include the increased stress that comes from the holidays as well as possible lack of sleep and the stress that can come from travelling. In addition, during the winter months around Christmas time, people also tend to get more colds, or the flu, or pneumonia, which can certainly trigger episodes of atrial fibrillation. So during this Christmas holiday please be safe, try to limit your stress. Travel as little as possible and try to minimize alcohol use, especially if you have a history of atrial fibrillation. But I want to wish you a safe and happy holiday’s season and a Merry Christmas. I’ll see you next time.

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