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Holiday Heart Syndrome Caused By Binge Drinking

The holidays are here, and physicians are warning people that binge drinking can trigger abnormal and dangerous heart rhythms.

“It’s called holiday heart syndrome,” said Dr. Marc Gillinov, a heart surgeon. “It’s a heartbeat that’s usually chaotic, irregular and faster than your normal heartbeat.”

Holiday heart syndrome is a phrase that was coined more than 30 years ago in 1978. At that time, researchers detected heart rhythm abnormalities in 24 study participants with a history of heart disease who were drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

“Heavy alcohol use can lead to dehydration,” said Dr. Malissa Wood, co-director of the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center. “It can also deplete electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. And it may also affect the way the heart responds to adrenaline in your own body.”

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