Q: I've heard of a condition called holiday heart syndrome. Is this real?
A: Holiday heart syndrome refers to an irregular heart rhythm, specifically atrial fibrillation, that is triggered by excessive alcohol consumption, stress and dehydration — factors commonly associated with the holiday season. It was first identified in the late 1970s when researchers observed an increase in patients presenting with atrial fibrillation after weekends or holidays, during which alcohol intake tends to be higher.
The symptoms of holiday heart syndrome are similar to those of atrial fibrillation and may include palpitations, chest discomfort, shortness of breath and dizziness. It's important to note that not everyone who consumes alcohol during the holidays will experience the condition, but individuals with a history of heart problems may be more susceptible.