Halloween party impacts on your heart

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Halloween is historically a hard time for heart attacks Friday 2 February is turkey day. Despite the negative publicity that comes with this annual feat of cooking, health…

Halloween party impacts on your heart

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Halloween is historically a hard time for heart attacks

Friday 2 February is turkey day. Despite the negative publicity that comes with this annual feat of cooking, health experts say it’s no different from other celebrations.

And, although individuals might have varying degrees of exposure to the hazards, the main risk in this setting is likely to be overly loud conversations.

“We think people approach any type of activity with what you might call a little bit of a naive approach,” said Dr Adisa Adedapo, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“We think that regardless of what kind of family you have, or what type of community you have, there is a certain risk,” he said.

The main way to avoid harm is to simply not drink – or, if you do drink, the likelihood of boozing overloading your system – but, says Dr Adedapo, this will always be impossible if you have a physical activity oriented party.

“We are aware of the fact that there will be discussions over food,” he said.

“It’s okay to have them over food so long as you keep them civilised. [For example], if you’re in a house that’s really loud or if there are house fires … you need to have the responsibility to diffuse the situation or make sure the information that you hear will not get out of hand.”

Tempers can flare as many people don’t have the skills or basic tools required to control themselves in these environments, explains Dr Stacey Kostulnick, head of cardiac resynchronisation at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

While she has been practising medicine for 30 years, she has only seen two instances of someone suffering a heart attack at one of these gatherings.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Siblings Jared and Molly Chen heard about deaths at the annual gingerbread house dinner

One example was in 2009, when Molly Chen and her two brothers had a Gingerbread House dinner, where families assembled edible gingerbread houses before the attendees drank a few glasses of wine to relish in the joy of the accomplishment.

“I thought there would be more to see and I was wrong,” she told the Cleveland Clinic.

Another case involved a family in the US having part of their car crushed by a snow plough.

“We had a friend who was maybe just a little bit young who got in his truck, and when the ploughs drove over that was it. He passed away,” Dr Kostulnick said.

“For me, it was heartbreaking,” she added.

“I didn’t even know the family, I just feel bad for the parents.”

The questions raised by this case, however, are not new.

“We know that a family gathering brings those challenges of large gatherings and alcohol and the general biological risk in people at that age,” Dr Kostulnick said.

Around 84,000 Britons die each year due to heart disease, with every death costing the health system £10,000.

“So, when this data shows us a risk at Thanksgiving and at Halloween it does give us greater knowledge to help us manage that risk.”

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