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Don't let too much salt, fat and caffeine cause 'holiday heart' this Thanksgiving

Do you overindulge on Thanksgiving? A lot of people do. It can be hard to resist recipes you only get during the holidays. But if you chow down on foods and drinks that are high in salt, fat or caffeine, you may be at risk of "holiday heart." Viv Williams has details from Mayo Clinic cardiologists in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter
Avoid too much salt, fat and caffeine on Thanksgiving to stay heart healthy.
Viv Williams
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ROCHESTER — When the Thanksgiving spread is on the table, many people can't say "no" to the tasty foods that entice the senses. The holidays are a special time and food is a big part of the celebration. But too much salt, fat and caffeine can put you at risk of a condition called "holiday heart."

"In the cardiology world, 'holiday heart' actually refers to this effect of the stress of too much alcohol, too much salt, higher blood pressure on the heart," says Dr. Amy Pollak , a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

Dr. Pollak says all that stress on the heart can cause an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.

"And, for some people, it feels like their heart is racing out of their chest," she says. "Their heart is just beating vigorously. For other folks, they just feel some irregularity – tired, short of breath, just wiped out, no energy."

Too much fat may also be an issue for your heart.


“It’s been shown within 90 minutes, a big fatty meal with saturated animal fats will start to affect the lining of the arteries,” says Dr. Stephen Kopecky , a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. "That lining can become irritated, making it more likely to rupture or tear — then a clot could develop, block blood flow and cause a heart attack."

Both Drs. Pollak and Kopecky say you don't have to abstain from tasting all of that yummy food completely. Just don't go overboard. And if you start to feel like your heart's racing, you're short of breath or very tired, seek medical attention.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

What's on your "what I'm thankful for" list this Thanksgiving? On a trip to Central America, Viv Williams visits a vibrant health clinic and adds the team she met there to her gratitude list. Find out why in this NewsMD, "Health Fusion" column.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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