Critical Care: Supporting your patient through holiday heart syndrome: Excessive alcohol intake can cause dysrhythmias. Here's how to recognize trouble and respond appropriately

February 2007 
Volume 37  Number 2
Pages 64cc1 - 64cc3
  PDF Version Available!



Joni Dirks is a critical care educator at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.

Drinking too much alcohol to celebrate the holidays or a special event can lead to more than just a morning-after hangover. Binge drinking may also produce disturbances in cardiac rhythm, even in people without underlying heart disease.

Holiday heart syndrome is the term for an acute dysrhythmia, typically supraventricular tachycardia, triggered by excessive alcohol intake in an otherwise-healthy person. Let's look at a typical case and how to respond.

Heartfelt celebration

Pale, sweaty, and smelling strongly of alcohol, Eric Jones, 30, arrives at the emergency department (ED) at 6 a.m. Saturday after celebrating all night at his best friend's bachelor party. He complains of a “fluttering feeling in my chest” ...

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