SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The holiday season is well underway and as we quickly approach Christmas, the American Heart Association wants you to keep heart health top of mind.

“We see more heart attack deaths between Christmas and New Year’s than any other time of year.”

Kristy Smorol

Kristy Smorol is the communications director for the local chapter of the American Heart Association. She says there are a few reasons behind the uptick.

Our stress level is higher, our routines are often disrupted, we’re eating and drinking more, and likely exercising less.

However, Smorol says there are some simple ways to keep your heart health strong around the holidays.

“We’re a little off our routines this time of year, so whatever you need to do whether that’s parking farther away when you go shopping, maybe stay in the store a little longer and do some laps around the store. Maybe you take everybody on a winter hike or ice skating, whatever it is, that way you’re still with your family but you’re working in that physical activity too.”

Here are some other things to be mindful of:

  • DO celebrate in moderation
  • DO swap a few cocktails for mocktails
  • DO continue taking all your medication (set alarms if you need to)
  • DO make time for yourself
  • DO know the signs of a heart attack
  • DO NOT put off the doctor until after the holidays

“If you feel something wrong with your body, you need to take action,” Smorol said.

As for the signs of a heart attack, the big one is pain or pressure in your chest.

Heart attack can also present with neck, back, arm, or shoulder pain.

“Nausea, lightheadedness, cold sweats, those are all signs of a heart attack, and women are more likely to present with those other signs, the things that are easy to brush off.”

Kristy Smorol

If you have any of those symptoms, call 911 right away.

“Yes, we’re busy, but we can never be too busy for our heart health.”

kristy smorol

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

As for cooking, Smorol suggests trading salt for herbs and spices instead.