South Dakota researcher finds holiday drinking can lead to heart failure

A University of South Dakota addiction expert has found a correlation between holiday drinking and the number of occasional drinkers who experience heart failure.

Addiction Studies professor John Korkow said "holiday heart syndrome" is caused when people who don't usually drink much overconsume alcohol to a point that actually disrupts the regular rhythm of their heartbeat, potentially leading to heart failure or stroke.

“Over holidays like Christmas, people who aren’t normally drinkers are more likely to drink, and these people have less tolerance for alcohol and they don’t understand their limits," Korkow said. "That puts them at risk for dangerous behaviors."

Korkow said hospitals see two to three times as many patients for heart problems after the holidays, a surge he links to an increase in holiday drinking. Korkow also said the percentage of fatal car accidents caused by alcohol jumps by almost 40 percent during the holiday season, which urges moderation and good decision-making when consuming alcohol.

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