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Holiday Heart

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Old 10-19-2003, 01:44 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17
Sp0ck HB User
Post Holiday Heart

Hi All,

Just curious, a few weeks ago I went out on the town thinking I was still a college student and tied on on way too far. I went out drinking with some old friends and didn't know when to stop. I figured I had an all go because no one was driving and we rented a room. I ended up in the emergency room the next morning suppossedly because of a condition called "holiday heart." It occurs in some people when they have had way too much to drink. My heart went into irregular rythums for about 10 hours - arterial ...ventriculation?. I thought it was just a muscle in my chest twitching but got concerned when I had absolutely no energy to get out of bed by 12noon the next day. Then I realized it was my heart beating really weird!

It turns out some people have almost an allergy to alcohol that can show up in the teenage years to 30's to whenever. The most likely scenario- alcohol and dehydration threw off my "electronics" to the heart, and threw it into a strange beat and it was beating about 220 times per minute! Scared the #$%^ out of me! After rushing to the emergency room, and getting fluids in me they ran some tests.

They found my magnesium to be low for one thing. When you drink, it depletes seriously important vitamins and minerals involved in delicate chemical balance of the heart. I didn't know this. I went to the doc again last week and they listened and ran EKG. All seems perfect believe it or not.

Anyway. I am NEVER drinking again. Holiday heart can cause damage if it is done too many times. They detected no damage after running tests thnk GOD. It could have been a lot worse and yes, I could have died! Anyone else ever have this? Similar happened to me one other time about 7 years ago when I tied one on so to speak and my heart went BAM BAM BAM BAM! Didn't hurt but felt like it could have %^&*ing EXPLODED, no exaggeration!! I called 911 and thought I was going to die! They checked me out and said I was fine, don't drink that much anymore. This time I am listening!

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Old 10-19-2003, 05:18 AM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Jersey City, NJ
Posts: 2,896
zip2play HB User


I've had the feeling of doom and racing irregular heartbeat on occasion's frightening.

And I found exactly what you did, that magnesium supplementation is the way to prevent it forever.

If it ever recurs without a drinking bout (which it readily can) try adding about 250 mg. of magnesium (any kind) to your diet daily.
I haven't been bothered in many years.

Warning: If you are prone to it, be wary of novocaine shots (and the added epinephrine ) even for dental work. It's triggered an episode for me several times. I believe atrial fibrillation is the term.

Old 10-19-2003, 09:30 AM   #3
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17
Sp0ck HB User
Thumbs up

Thanks very much zip2play! I am taking a multi-vitamin every day now in addition as this has magnesium as well.

Old 10-21-2003, 03:50 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Tucson AZ USA
Posts: 31

Hi SpOck

I read both the threads with your post and decided to use this one for follow up. I see you edited and got it right- Atrial fibrillation "A-fib". I am glad you reverted to sinus rhythm in 10 hours.

Afib is caused by a great number of things, though "Holiday Heart" sure is one of them.

I developed afib about a year ago from muscling a dresser up some stairs and I am a strong 62 year old female. Since that episode, which lasted for weeks, the afib has come back for other reasons. Stress seemed to bring it on after the first episode opened the gate.

I have had to take Coumadin, because being in Afib for more than 48 hours can cause blood clots to form in the left atria, then spontaneously reverting to "sinus rhythm" can release a clot and cause a stroke.

I have what is called paroxymal or intermittent afib - meaning I had more than one episode after the first one.

I hope that one (2?)incident of alcohol induced afib does not foresee other causes for another episode for you!

Ijust want to say that if you have another afib episode for a reason other than drinking, get to a cardiologist, an electrophysiologist to be precise.

There is a great deal of info on afib on the net. It can become a serious heart issue.

I have heard that fish oil and magnesium are both good and I have taken them for years before my heart problems and still do. I am a serious health food person. But I still have come to need meds as well.

Take care and watch out. I wish you a life free from any more afib.

Old 10-22-2003, 06:01 PM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17
Sp0ck HB User

Here's just one of the links. The link with drinking seems to be the cause of mine considering I have no family history, under 35 (Not 60 or over- higher risk/more common) and no problems exercising heavily.

Baylor College of Medicine

Those extra flutes of champagne or glasses of wine during the holidays can affect more than just your waistline. They can make your heart skip a beat.

Dr. Robert E. Fromm Jr., associate professor of cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, said holiday heart syndrome is a condition seen in holiday revelers, especially those who drink excessively during a short period of time.

"The medical community has known about this phenomenon for more than 25 years," Dr. Fromm said. "There seems to be an association between the holidays and weekends and a disruption in heart rhythm. Many studies have concluded that alcohol consumption is the cause."

Dr. Fromm said when alcohol is broken down in the body, it has been shown to cause disrhythmias, or electrical problems in the heart.

"Patients often come in with complaints about the heart rhythm itself," Dr. Fromm said. "They believe they are having palpitations or recognize that their heart is racing or skipping. Some will have chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or become faint."

These symptoms can be alarming, especially because holiday heart syndrome strikes individuals with otherwise healthy hearts. Typically, the side effects disappear within 24 hours.

"Holiday heart syndrome is seldom life-threatening, but it can be scary," Dr. Fromm said. "People need to realize the dangers of binge drinking. They also should know that heavy drinking over time can lead to irreversible heart damage."

Dr. Fromm said there is one important message people should remember during holiday celebrations.

"Like most things in life, my advice is moderation. That's difficult to enforce over the holidays, but people need to be careful about how much they drink. It'll not only prevent holiday heart syndrome, but it'll mean fewer traffic accidents."

Old 10-22-2003, 06:32 PM   #6
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17
Sp0ck HB User

Here's more info:

Alcohol And Your Health: Where Do You Draw The Line?
James Finch, M.D., professional educator, National Alcohol Screening Day; medical director, Addiction Medicine Services, Durham County Mental Health Center, Durham, N.C.
Wednesday, April 9, 2003

How exactly does excessive alcohol consumption affect the heart?

Dr. Finch:
Alcohol in high concentrations is toxic to most tissues. The heart is affected both in terms of the muscle of the heart as well as the conducting system of the heart (the part of the heart that makes it beat properly). High concentrations of alcohol can weaken the heart muscle so that it doesn't pump the blood as strongly. This can be a mild effect or can actually lead to serious conditions like heart failure. In addition, alcohol can irritate the pace maker and conducting system so that the heart beats irregularly or inefficiently. In the past, this was referred to as "holiday heart syndrome" because it was first associated with heavy drinking around holidays. Obviously, some people don't just drink heavily on holidays. Alcohol is toxic to all muscles, not just the heart.

Are elderly people at a greater risk if they drink alcohol?

Dr. Finch:
They may be if they drink at a level that is above their tolerance. Tolerance levels go down as one gets older. The recommendations for safe drinking limits for adults in general are no more than two drinks on a typical day. But the elderly, somewhat arbitrarily defined as people 65 years of age, should have typically no more than one drink per episode. By "drink" we mean a standard drink — 12 ounces of beer, one-and- a-half ounces of liquor, or four to five ounces of wine. The other important issue with the elderly, and anyone to some extent, is that alcohol can clearly interfere with many medications. Since the elderly are frequently on a number of medications, this is an important issue for them. All people should always check to see if a medication they are on is affected by alcohol.

[This message has been edited by Sp0ck (edited 10-22-2003).]

Old 10-22-2003, 06:42 PM   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17
Sp0ck HB User

Again, in my case I was also:

#1 low on magnesium in addition to
#2 being dehydrated (after throwing up several times) and
#3 at a level of .31+ , rediculous drunk, as far as I can calculate based on memory (not driving).

I understand now why the doctor was debating tachacardia (sp) and saying it may not have been afib based on my ECG at the time of concern. The article below describes 300-600 bpm as AF. I was at a max of 220 bpm. Not sure, maybe someone more knowledgeable here could determine... Also, I have never had this before. I was a bit misleading in my statement. I had some wild beats (4 or 5 hard ones) when I was 27 after heavy drinking but nothing like this past time (The last time).

United States Naval Flight Surgeon's Manual: Third Edition 1991: Chapter 5: Internal Medicine: Section I: Cardiology

Atrial Fibrillation
This is caused by chaotic atrial activity and manifested by fibrillatory waves occurring at a rate between 300 and 600, and an irregularly irregular ventricular response, generally between 120 and 180 (Figure 5-16). Slow ventricular responses may be caused by drugs that slow conduction through the AV node, such as digoxin, and in individuals with AV nodal disease. Occassionally, a healthy, athletic individual with high resting vagal tone will also have a slow ventricular response.

Atrial fibrillation is associated with rheumatic heart disease, especially mitral stenosis, atrial septal defects, cardiomyopathies, coronary artery disease, hypertension, pericarditis, and thyrotoxicosis. It may also occur in individuals with no underlying abnormality. These "lone fibrillators" have frequently overindulged in the use of caffine, nicotine, and, most especially, alcohol (so called "holiday heart" syndrome). Atrial fibrillation may cause a significant decrease in cardiac output, as well asmyocardial and cerebral blood flow. These adverse hemodynamic effects are of particular concern in the aviation environment where G forces and hypoxia may additionally reduce tissue perfusion and oxygen delivery. Furthermore, persistent and recurrent atrial fibrillation is associated with a significant increase in the risk of embolic strokes, even for "lone fibrillators. "

[This message has been edited by Sp0ck (edited 10-22-2003).]

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