John Korkow, Ph.D., an instructor at the University of South Dakota’s Department of Addiction Studies, said hospital admissions for serious cardiac trouble immediately after the holidays can be double or even triple the normal rate because of excessive drinking. The reason: Heavy alcohol consumption can trigger severe heart rhythm disturbances that can cause stroke or heart failure. These heart disturbances can occur in drinkers who have no history of heart problems.

On the roads, 41 percent of fatal vehicle crashes are usually related to alcohol, but that jumps to 57 percent this time of year, Korkow said.

“Over holidays like Christmas, people who aren’t normally drinkers are more likely to drink, and these people have less tolerance for alcohol and they don’t understand their limits. That puts them at risk for dangerous behaviors,” Korkow said.

He encourages people to pay attention to the size, potency and number of drinks they consume.

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