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Holiday heart attacks - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Holiday heart attacks

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NEW YORK -

Ilan Arboleda suffers from high blood pressure.

"I've taken the medication, but exercise and diet hasn't been great. So it's my responsibility to get that going," Arboleda said.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association reminds patients like Arboleda to be cautious during the holiday season. Heart attack-related deaths are 5 percent more likely around Christmas and New Year's.

"People are eating more, drinking more, they're not exercising," said Dr. Tara Narula of Lenox Hill Hospital.

Narula says people who have risk factors for heart disease are at highest risk, but moderation is good for everyone.

"Certainly anyone could be at risk if they're consuming a lot of alcohol or eating a ton of salt or under a lot of stress," Narula said.

Cold weather can also be hard on the heart, causing the blood vessels to constrict, which could make someone more prone to heart attack or stroke. People with high blood pressure also need to remember that decongestants can raise blood pressure, so be careful with the over-the-counter medicines. And all heart patients should be sure to take their usual medications on time.

Arboleda says he is keeping all these things in mind this holiday season.

"Portion control is a major thing for me and making sure I keep moving, that I don't just sit on the couch and watch football, maybe actually go play football, or go for a run or a walk," Arboleda said.

Doctors say you can still enjoy the holidays and stay healthy.

Experts say don’t ignore the signs of a heart attack which can include shortness of breath, dizziness or pain in your chest, arm or neck.

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