Doctors warn public vs ‘holiday heart syndrome,’ stroke amid COVID-19 pandemic

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2020 08:20 PM

MANILA — Doctors have warned the public to ease up on drinking during the holiday celebrations, where people are more likely to binge on alcoholic beverages, to prevent the onset of stroke and the “holiday heart syndrome” despite the pandemic. 

Philippine Heart Association president Dr. Orlando Bugarin said the usual effects of the holiday heart syndrome include irregular heartbeats that can lead to stroke or sudden cardiac death. 

Alcohol can trigger the said syndrome, which is an “acute cardiac rhythm disturbance,” after an episode of heavy drinking even for those who are not even considered chronic drinkers. 

“Nagkakaroon po ang isang taong may holiday heart syndrome na cardiac arrhythmia.. nagsi-seizure ang puso... nawawala sa tiyempo ang pagtibok ng puso dahil sa epekto ng alcohol,” Bugarin said in a virtual press conference. 


“Puwedeng makaramdam ng pagbibigat ng dibdib at dahil sa bilis ng tibok ng puso, nagdidilim ang paningin . . . Nahihirapan huminga . . . O may iba ang nararamdaman lang nila ay simple, merong pagkabog sa dibdib,” he added. 

People who might experience the holiday heart syndrome need to be rehydrated and rushed to the hospital.

“It is a serious problem, di natin pwedeng ipagsawalang-bahala . . . Pwede po syang ikamatay kung di sya makontrol,” he warned. 

Despite the social restrictions imposed during the pandemic, he pointed out that people would still consume alcohol as they celebrate the holidays.

“During the pandemic, of course, nawawala po ang gatherings pero we all know within the family . . . Andyan na po iyan. Kasama po sa kasiyahan ang pag-inom ng alak. Kahit na pandemic, nasa loob ng tahanan pwede parin silang maka inom ng alcohol, magkayayaan na uminom,” he said.

Bugarin also reminded the public to observe health protocols during the holiday celebrations, even when inside the house and with close relatives.

WATCH: What is the "holiday heart syndrome"? 

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Stroke in the Philippines

Dr. Anne Marie Joyce Tenorio, a Philippine Neurological Association fellow, warned against stroke, which she said is still one of the leading causes of deaths among Filipinos.

Heavy drinkers, heavy smokers, people who have hypertension, diabetes, irregular heart beats, have higher chances of experiencing stroke.

“Ang stroke ang nangungunang sanhi ng pagka baldado sa buong mundo, at ang paulit ulit na stroke ang nangungunang dahilan ng pagka baldado o pagkamatay,” Tenorio said. 

“Ano ang nagpapataas ng tsansa ng stroke sa Pilipino? hypertension, diabetes, iregular na tibok ng puso, stress, paninigarilyo, paghagok, atake sa puso, ang sobrang pag-inom ng alak at ibat ibang kondisyon sa puso,” she said. 

Stroke is always sudden, and Tenorio advised the public to be very alert and watch out for its warning signs, which include sudden weakness, numbing on one part of the body, difficulty speaking, loss of sight or blurry vision. 

A person should also watch out for bad headaches, dizziness, and loss of balance, which could be signs that one already has a stroke, she pointed out.