Could sitting down to the Holiday Feast really cause a heart attack? The evidence would suggest that just might be so. A study of almost 2,000 patients who suffered a heart attack presented at the American Heart Association meeting (in 2000) suggested that an excessively large meal can increase the risk of a heart attack by four times within the two hours following the meal. Consuming a huge feast, say around 4,000 calories worth causes the heart to have to work harder as the GI system demands increased blood flow to digest the mass quantities. The amount of extra work to the heart can equilibrate to that of exercise (No, you do not get the benefits of exercise by gluttony). Depending on the composition of the meal, insulin levels along with other vasoactive substances can increase resulting in a state of relative inflammation and precipitate coronary constriction.
As we enter into the second round of Holiday Feasting, it is a good idea to constantly snack lightly and not sit down to the meal famished. Take your time; enjoy the glass of wine, conversation or family antics, relax and stop when you’re feeling almost full.