Don’t let holiday stress lead you to the ER


By Dr. Gopi Cherukuri | Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital

The holiday season is upon us, time for socializing with friends and family and enjoying time together.

Most holiday gatherings are truly relaxing and enjoyable, but another holiday tradition is stress that may land you in the hospital. Doctors from Abrazo Health note that stress during the holidays has many causes.

Chronic stress for days or weeks at a time like during the holidays may lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Anxiety, becoming emotionally upset or angry can raise blood pressure and heart rate, which changes blood flow and reduces blood supply to the heart.

This can lead to a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems.

Stress and anxiety are known to contribute to numerous health problems, so it’s important to know the risks and ways to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack and heart disease.

Living through the many changes brought on by pandemic, as well as the recent election season, and economic issues are just a few examples of stressors affecting many in the community. Don’t let your anxiety or anger contribute to even more stress.

More than 18.2 million adults over age 20 have coronary heart disease, and each year about 805,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Signs of heart attack include:

• Chest tightness.

• Shortness of breath.

• Pain between the shoulder blades or in the arm, jaw, chest or upper abdomen.

• Dizziness or fatigue.

• Clammy skin or cold sweat.

• Indigestion or nausea and vomiting.

Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

The holidays are a time of celebration, but for some it can also be overwhelming. Know your limits and listen to our body. If you experience tightness in your chest or any of the classic signs of a heart attack, don’t delay seeking care.

For more information about Abrazo Health hospitals, to take a heart risk assessment or to find a doctor, visit

Dr. Gopi Cherukuri is an interventional cardiologist at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital, 1930 E. Thomas Rd. in Phoenix.