ODESSA - The holidays can definitely be an enjoyable time of year but they can also be a stressful one too. So stressful that health problems appear for many. In fact the number of heart attacks doubles during the holidays in the U.S. It's called holiday heart syndrome.
Normally Medical Center Hospital sees three to four heart attacks a month. That number skyrockets this time of year.
"This past weekend alone we had four heart attacks, just over the two day weekend," said Brenda Neckels, Director of Center for Heart Disease.
It's no secret that the holidays bring stress and stress contributes to heart attacks but there are also many other factors that come along this time of the year that many people are not aware of. "Some of the ones people don't know so much about are weather. Colder weather causes vessels to constrict, and when the vessel is constricted you're more likely to develop a clot which can cause a heart attack," said Neckels.
Over indulgence during the holidays is also a huge contributing factor to the rise in heart attacks this time of year. There's lots of good food around, drinks, and many don't make it to the gym like they normally do. So whats the answer to avoid becoming a victim of a heart attack?
"Moderation. Even during the holidays you want to maintain your habits in terms of if you go to the gym regularly, go to the gym. Eat everything in moderation. If people bring you treats, be moderate. If you're going to drink alcohol, be moderate. Just because it's the holidays don't eat or drink more than you normally would," said Neckels.
One in two men and one in three women will have a heart attack at some point in their lifetime. Gender doesn't just show differences in numbers, symptoms are also drastically different between men and women. "Men are more likely to have crushing chest pain and classic symptoms. Women are more likely to have complaints of fatigue. Like I just don't feel good, I'm short of breath," said Neckels.
If you have any symptoms like these MCH says the first thing to do is call 911. They say it's important to lie down while waiting for paramedics and if you can take an aspirin. Hospital officials say if you feel like you're having a heart attack never drive yourself to the hospital.