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Avatar universal

Holiday Heart Syndrome

I'm wondering if anyone else out there who has the problem has ever had a cardiologist explain it to them.    

I've been doing a lot of reading on the net about the condition, and see that it is usually attributed to binge drinking.  With me, I don't have to binge...just two drinks will do it, although the more I drink, the faster my heart races.  The interesting thing is that my heart doesn't race while drinking or immediately after, but  hours later.   Yesterday when I had two beers after golf and finished the last one at about 6:00 p.m., I noticed my heart racing (about 90 bpm) at about 10:00.  It lasted about 90 minutes or so and stopped.   In the past, I've noticed it as high as 120 bpm when I had been drinking quite a bit (which I obviously avoid doing now).    

There are no other contributing factors I've observed.   Whether I drink a lot of water or eat food while drinking doesn't help.    The sole cause seems to be alcohol in my blood stream.

I'd really like to understand the underlying cause, but thus far, all I've found online is that the bodies of people with this problem secrete too much epinephrine or nor-epinephrine when alcohol is consumed.  

If anyone knows more, I'd love to hear it.


15 Responses
1534233 tn?1523388856
Hi, in my recent experience explanations of an underlying cause are very few and far between. I have had some similar symptoms, not just linked to alcohol but certainly made much worse when having a relatively small amount. I was prescribed 10mg propranalol 3 times a day in February. Over the past cople of weeks imfind I can now have a reasonable drink with no consequences again. I saw my cardiologist in 3 weeks ago, she said with the small dose I take alcohol's not a problem and in fact may help in some respects.

I can get no explanation for my symptoms but the tablets do help.
177337 tn?1310059899
Hi - my heart always speeds up after a drink.  Most of the time, I notice it after I go to bed.  It actually feels like it is going faster than it is.  Usually around 100 but seems like 120.  It helps to drink a LOT of water after the drink.  I am small, and i love a martini but if I have two, I can just plan on my heart speeding up for hours.  I take 1/2 of a 25mg of atenolol and that really helps it to slow down.  Wine and beer are worse for me than vodka (which I put in my martini).  I only have a drink or two on the weekends.  My body has always reacted this way.  Remember, lots of water and if you have more than one drink drink at least 8 ounces of water in between.
177337 tn?1310059899
I just read your post again and saw that water doesn't help you.  Sometimes gatorade helps me as well.  The atenolol also drops it right back down to normal for me.
Avatar universal
Thanks much for the feedback to both of you.    So it seems a beta blocker might help.  

jk, do you only take the atenolol when you drink and not daily as a normal course of action?  It seems like a good solution if I can get my doctor to give me a prescription.  I'll also try the gatorade.

It almost seems based on the timing of things that my heart starts racing as the alcohol is metabolized out of my bloodstream.   If this happens after I go to bed, I can't sleep at all.   If I'm asleep before it starts, it will wake me up.    It's just very annoying, and apparently a little dangerous as it can increase your risk of a stroke from what I've read.  

177337 tn?1310059899
I take atenolol (1/2 of the 25mg) every evening before bed (around 10:30pm).  If I have a drink earlier in the evening around 6, my heart will be beating faster within 2 hours.  So, I take the atenolol a little earlier and it slows it right down.  I have been taking this amount for years to help with pvcs and pat.
Yes, my heart starts racing as it is being metabolized too.  But, it really isn't racing per say.  It is usually around 100 (lying down).  It just feels like it is beating a lot faster.   Typically my heart beats around 74.
I don't know if you can take atenolol on a "as needed basis".  I hear conflicting stories about that.  I have heard that it is used for stage fright, so I don't see why it couldn't be used as needed for your heart racing.  Ask your doctor.
Avatar universal
I happen to have an appt with my doc today, so I'll see what she says.    I have a history of PVCs and have had two episodes of PAT also, but don't take anything for either.  

Thanks again.
Avatar universal
some information on this web site -

Avatar universal
Thanks for the link.   I'd read about that study in my readings.    

I was at my doctor's today for something unrelated, and asked about this problem again.   I got no sympathy.  She looked at me and said, "Don't drink."   When I pressed a little more about a beta blocker I might try, she asked me if I'd enjoy passing out from low blood pressure.

177337 tn?1310059899
I have low blood pressure too and I can tell you that 1/4 of the 25mg pill shouldn't be a problem.
It isn't for me and it helps so much.
Avatar universal
Thanks.   I'm going to keep trying, or maybe hit up the cardiologist although I have no reason to see her right now (other than this).  
Avatar universal
Wish I had seen this thread before I posted my question about alcohol and my fast heart rate afterwards. It seems that others have experienced this same thing. I think I will keep it to one beer when I do go out with my husband and IF I decide to have a second, I'll drink some water and wait a while before having a second.
Avatar universal
Got my hands on some propranalol, and it definitely does the trick!    Thanks for the advice!
Avatar universal
I've just discovered something...maybe.   This rapid pulse thing has happened to me twice in the past month when alcohol wasn't involved.   The seeming common trigger?    Carbohydrates.  Lots of of them.   My heart was doing upwards of 90 bpm last night and the only alcohol I had had yesterday was in the morning at brunch (Mimosa).    The rest of the day, however, was filled with a lot of carbs and a very late evening meal of lasagna w/garlic bread followed by a big piece of chocolate cake that I couldn't even finish.  

This Science Daily article seems to suggest the same.

Avatar universal
Well, another theory has been posed to me.   What was suggested is that Holiday Heart Syndrome may be due to "histamine intolerance."    

The best layman explanation I've read about the problem is here.


Vitamin B6 seems to be mentioned a lot in reading about this, so in addition to making sure I take a B complex religiously, I'm going to try a product called Histame.
Avatar universal
I'm working on another theory about what's causing my problem....Reactive Hypoglycemia.    I've bought an inexpensive glucose monitoring kit, and am going to see what happens to my glucose levels after I drink.    
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