© 2023 WSIU Public Radio
WSIU Public Broadcasting
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Over drinking can lead to heart trouble, especially this time of year

Dr. Matthew Becker
Memorial Health
Cardiologist Dr. Matthew "Casey" Becker

A Memorial Health cardiologist says the potential for increased alcohol consumption over the holidays can lead to atrial fibrillation.

That's irregular heart rhythms, such as a faster or irregular beat, which can result in shortness of breath, dizziness or passing out.

"Holiday heart is sort of a nomenclature that people will jokingly use to refer to people who have drank too much alcohol, and it precipitates this atrial fibrillation arrhythmia, which is already common,” Dr. Matthew "Casey" Becker said.

He said 5% of people over 60 are affected and about double that for those over 75.

“Truly what I think is that if you already have a predilection to atrial fibrillation, if you already have it, or if you're inclined to get it because of the circuitry of your heart, sometimes a little something extra can tip you into it like alcohol, or stress, or lack of sleep," he said.

"So Holiday Heart Syndrome, is generally referred to in someone who's experienced in arrhythmia probably due to increased alcohol intake."

According to Memorial Health, the symptoms of atrial fibrillation should not be ignored. They can also be indicators that an individual is experiencing a stroke or heart attack.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and covering the equity beat. Maureen joined the Illinois Issues in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
As a WSIU donor, you don’t simply watch or listen to public media programs, you are a partner. By making a gift, you help WSIU produce, purchase, and broadcast programs you care about and enjoy – every day of the year!