Holiday Heart

‘Tis the season, and with the holidays comes celebration, excess of food, family, friends and often alcohol.  For most people, their bodies are not used to the end of the year excess. As a result a condition, commonly referred to as Holiday Heart can happen to those who experience a little too much holiday cheer.

Holiday Heart is caused by atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disturbance. Patients will experience the sudden onset of rapid heart rate, palpitations, and often dizziness or shortness of breath.

Another cause of Holiday Heart could be an unusual sensitivity to alcohol consumption. This phenomenon, atrial fibrillation after an episode of binge drinking, is the most common cause of Holiday Heart, and doctors are generally well aware of this condition.

Sometimes however, people are simply extremely sensitive to alcohol, such that even moderate amounts – two or three drinks, and sometimes a single drink – can trigger Holiday Heart. In these cases doctors should carefully examine whether the episode could be related to alcohol consumption. And doctors who treat patients with this condition should be careful to ask about even minor exposure to alcohol. Making the proper diagnosis may spare the patient from inappropriate treatments.