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How to keep your heart healthy during the holidays

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - Studies show, the day after Christmas is one of the occasions where doctors see an increase in heart related deaths. We're on your side with what you can do to keep your heart healthy this holiday season.

The end of November and the month of December are times when there is a lot of family, festivities, and a ton of food. Combined with increase stress, these factors can put a strain on your heart.

"You might be eating a little heavier than usual," said Jack Lockwood at the Columbus Health Department.

From Thanksgiving until New Year's Day, most holiday celebrations tend to focus on food. But over-indulging on high fat foods and alcohol can be damaging to your heart.

"The good thing to do is before you go to that large meal is maybe eat a healthy small meal ahead of time," said Lockwood.

Lockwood said snacking on a small portion of fruits and vegetables before a big holiday meal will fill you up just enough to make good choices at dinner. Although the holiday season is almost over, doctors say parents should model good eating behavior for their children.

"We want to have a big variety of food on our table. Take small portions and go back more frequently rather than load up the plate in one go," said Dr. Ritu Chandra at the Ft. Mitchell Clinic.

Keeping your body active is an important factor for heart health during the holidays.

"It doesn't have to be exercise per se. It can be walking, brisk walking. It can be doing the chores around the house," said Lockwood.

"When you're gathered for the holidays in the evening, lets all get together in a big group and walk around and look at all the holiday lights with our neighbors," said Dr. Chandra.

There are some symptoms you can look out for if you've been feeling some discomfort after holiday meals.

-Uncomfortable pressure or pain in the center of your chest
-Shortness of breath with or without chest pain
-Breaking out in a cold sweat
-Nausea or lightheadedness

You should also try to limit stress during this time. The American Psychological Association said 44% of women and 31% of men say they have increased stress over the holidays.

For those concerned about their health, the Health Department in partnership with several organizations will host a Health Expo in Columbus later next month. It will offer more than 30 free health screenings for the community.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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