Heart attacks and more explain holiday emergency room visits

Emergency departments treat about 12,000 Americans during November and December for holiday decorating-related incidents.

Emergency departments treat about 12,000 Americans during November and December for holiday decorating-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Learn ways to stay safe this holiday on the commission’s website (cpsc.gov). Also, keep these things in mind:

  • Food safety. Maintain proper food temperatures to guard against spoilage. Ask your holiday guests about possible food allergies.
  • Fire safety. Keep live trees watered and away from heat sources. Never leave candles unattended. Christmas tree and candle-related house fires cause an average of 167 deaths and nearly $400 million in property damage each year.
  • Personal safety. Throw salt on icy walkways. Keep the floor clear of packages, toys and wrappings. Keep extension cords out of areas where people walk. Secure or remove area rugs. Older guests in particular could trip.

Heart attacks, other conditions increase

Immediate care centers and emergency departments also see an increase in medical conditions during the “most wonderful time of the year.” That includes more heart attack cases.

“Nationally there is a 5 percent increase in heart attacks around Christmas and New Year’s,” said Angela Goldring, APRN, with Norton Community Medical Associates – Fincastle.  “The cause of this increase can be blamed on a combination of stress and overindulgence, among other factors.”

Know the signs of a heart attack. If your loved one has any of the signs or symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Warning signs of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest discomfort with heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness or squeezing pain
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, left shoulder, neck, back, throat, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Sudden fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or lightheadedness
  • Cold sweat or perspiration
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased heart rate

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