Holiday Heart Syndrome: What It Is and How to Avoid It .

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Aside from weight gain, are there any negative side effects to overindulging during the holidays?

For many people, the holidays mean special foods—like cookies, candy and rich dishes—are suddenly in abundance.

Too much eating and drinking can do more damage to your body than wrecking a diet—it can lead to “holiday heart syndrome.” Holiday heart syndrome is when overeating and overindulging in alcohol lead to an irregular heartbeat, called atrial fibrillation, which increases your risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Holiday heart syndrome can happen if you don’t typically drink alcohol, but then have a few at a holiday party or binge-drink.

To avoid holiday heart complications, be on the lookout for foods that are heavy in cream, sugar or salt and avoid drinking alcohol in excess. You don’t have to avoid all holiday treats, but being aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re eating can go a long way toward staying on track. Try eating a small healthy meal before heading to gatherings so you can more easily avoid overindulging in food and drinks.

This article originally appeared on Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials, health.clevelandclinic.org, asHow You Can Avoid Holiday Heart Syndrome“.