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Hockey and Holiday Season are Upon Us

11/26/2017, 9:30am CST
By Delmar Scanlon, WiPH Staff

Effect of the Holiday Season on Your Health

Do what you can to be there for your family

The hockey season is here and we want you around to watch your children play.  Do you know there have been some studies that have shown distinct spikes on strokes and heart attacks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day?

Each year there are approximately 795,000 strokes in the United States with 500,000 of them being first time occurrences.  The United States sees an approximate 715,000 heart attacks each year.

Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.

While most heart attack victims are middle-age or older - the average age for a first heart attack is 66 for men and 70 for women - people in their 20's and 30's suffer attacks too. The risk for heart attack climbs for men after the age 45 and women after 55.

Warning Signs for Stroke


  • Sudden weakness or numbness of face or limb on one side.

  • Sudden, severe headache.

  • Difficulty talking or understanding speech.

  • Unexplained dizziness.

  • Sudden dimness/loss of vision, often in one eye.

Warning Signs for Heart Attack


  • Chest discomfort: uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness.

  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: one or both arms or in the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath, either with chest discomfort or alone.

  • Other signs, including nausea, lightheadedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

Risk Factors for Stroke


  • High blood pressure.

  • Diabetes.

  • High cholesterol.

  • Age (risk doubles for each decade over 55 years of age).

  • Family history of stroke.

  • Smoking.

  • Birth control pills.

  • Atrial fibrillation.

  • Heart failure.

  • Excess alcohol.

  • Prior stroke or heart attack.

  • Black race.

  • Gender (women are at greater risk than men).

Risk Factors for Heart Attack


  • High blood pressure.

  • Diabetes.

  • Smoking.

  • High cholesterol.

  • Age.

  • Hormone replacement therapy.

  • Physical inactivity.

  • Gender (men are at greater risk than women).

Prevention of Heart Attack and Stroke


  • Stop smoking.

  • Engage in physical activity.

  • Use diet therapy.

  • Maintain/reduce weight.

  • Control blood pressure.

  • Undergo cholesterol control/statin therapy.

  • Control blood sugar.

  • Limit alcohol intake.

  • Take aspirin as advised.*

*For women who have at least a 20% chance of a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years.

Wisconsin Prep Hockey encourages everyone to take control of their health and to talk to your medical professionals for advise for your particular situation.  Individuals can experience a stroke and not be aware it happened.

This strikes close to home for me. This past year my father-in-law experienced a stroke near the end of the summer. He did not realize it and thought he had stumbled while walking outside. His children took him to the ER and found out he had a minor stroke. Approximately 2 weeks ago, I made a trip to the ER with numbness to the left side of my face and blood pressure of 160/105.  The doctors had a MRI performed on me and determined that I wasn't experiencing a stroke at this time. However, they did determine I had suffered a stroke previously.

In reviewing the past year, I was able to determine the time frame in which I experienced the stroke. I was covering a hockey game in Sun Prairie in February. I did not know that was what happened. I felt fine within 15 to 20 minutes afterwards and drove home. I was extremely fortunate, but now understand what could have been.

Please take care of yourselves. We would really like to have you around for you family and for your children to enjoy the experience of you watching them play.

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