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Heart attacks spike during holidays

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Heart attacks can spike during the holidays but a U.S. cardiologist says there are ways to reduce the risk of having a holiday heart problem.

"It is common for us to see an increase in heart-related issues, particularly around Christmas and New Year's," Dr. Brandon Stacey, a cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a statement. "It is important to know that if you experience any chest pain or discomfort, seek immediate medical attention or call 911."

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The risk of having a heart attack during the holidays can be reduced by sticking to a few common-sense steps, Stacey said.

Stacey and the American Heart Association recommend the following to keep hearts happy and healthy during this time of the year:

-- Don't be a glutton. Avoid overindulging in food or alcohol.

-- Drinking too much can lead to abnormal heart rhythm, also known as atrial fibrillation, and can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and even heart failure.

-- Stay warm. Cold temperatures can increase blood clotting and cause blood vessels to constrict.

-- Get your flu shot. Illnesses will put extra stress on the heart.

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-- Take it easy. Excessive physical activity and emotional stress can have a negative impact on the heart.

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