Dangerous heart conditions strike more frequently during the holiday season, including a high number of fatal heart attacks in January.

Here are ways to protect your heart for 2017:

Watch portion sizes. Large, fatty meals will draw blood to the intestines for digestion – and away from the heart. That’s potentially deadly for people who already have blockages or other damage to their coronary arteries.

Limit alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can irritate the upper chambers of the heart and trigger abnormal rhythms.

Don’t ignore symptoms. Chest pain that extends to the shoulder, arm, back or jaw is the classic sign of a heart attack, but others include abdominal pain, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, vomiting and fatigue. Don’t write it all off to indigestion or worry about disrupting holiday gatherings – get help.

Keep taking medication. People often forget blood pressure drugs, blood thinners and other prescriptions during the holiday bustle. Write yourself reminder notes if needed.

Reduce stress. Don’t pack your schedule too full, walk away from unpleasant social situations and build relaxing activities into each day.

Exercise – but carefully. Regular exercise is a great stress-buster, but don’t overdo it – especially in hot weather. Take breaks before you feel uncomfortable.

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