NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tis the season for family and friends, not to mention a lot of food, drinking and stress, which can all lead to heart trouble if you’re not careful, doctors say.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Tuesday, doctors say all the stress caused by the holiday season actually causes a spike in heart-related problems this time of year.

“These tend to occur either the day of the holiday but even more frequently, the day after or even the day after that is when we see a small spike in heart attacks.  We’ll frequently see people with pre-existing heart conditions, and then there are very healthy people who can bring about heart conditions because of things they don’t normally do, but do during the holidays,” said Dr. Robert Altman, of Roosevelt Hospital.

Doctors also warn against what they call “holiday heart.”  “That’s the occurrence of a rapid, irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation, which occurs after excessive drinking for most people who don’t regularly drink excessively. It tends to happen 12-24 hours after drinking and it’s more common than you might think,” Altman said.

And while holiday heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation usually go away on their own, Altman said it could represent something more serious.

“So symptoms of sustained, rapid or irregular or strong heart rate or chest pain or pressure should really be evaluated right away. And not wait until after the holidays.”

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