What is holiday heart syndrome?
Holiday heart syndrome is a term coined by a cardiologist, Philip Ettinger, M.D. to describe a cardiac condition associated mainly with excessive alcohol consumption coupled with overeating and possibly a lack of sleep. Despite the term, it does not not only occur on holidays although it is more common during the festive season, mainly Christmas and New Year’s. It is typically during these holidays that alcohol consumption increases excessively and often for prolonged periods as people indulge on consecutive days.
In holiday heart syndrome, there is dysfunction of the conduction system of the heart and irregular heart beat due to alcohol consumption in a person who does not have any history of heart disease. It is an acute condition that usually resolves spontaneously with abstaining from alcohol. However, most patients who develop holiday heart syndrome tend to have a history of heavy alcohol consumption on a regular basis. This does not mean that holiday heart syndrome cannot occur in people who usually consume alcohol in moderation but is less likely to be seen in these individuals.