Thanksgiving Day Food Orgy Leads To Heart Attack!

Thanksgiving Day Gluttony

Here is a startling fact: The average American scarfs down 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat during Thanksgiving. Gluttonous indeed, but are you putting your life at risk? Of course you are! – A study has found that heavy meals can trigger a heart attack.

How Can Dinner Trigger a Heart Attack?

The study, conducted by Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, found overeating QUADRUPLES a person’s risk of a heart attack for up to two hours after a meal. Think of that as you pile on the stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie.

So what causes the increased chance of having a heart attack after a large meal? There are a number of factors in play here:

  • Blood – Your digestive system goes into overdrive when you eat a large meal. This mean your gut needs more blood than normal and the heart has to work hard to get all that blood moving around.
  • Sugar – Blood sugar and inulin levels go up. These spikes can increase blood pressure and decrease the normal relaxation of the coronary arteries.
  • Fat –Fatty meals lead to an elevation of triglycerides (fat) in the blood. Increased triglycerides cause coronary artery inflammation. Inflamed arteries are a common precursor to a heart attack.
  • Magik – the magik of alcohol. Alcohol adds more calories to your day and makes us love/hate our relatives. Can also lead to an abnormal and dangerous heart rhythm (arrhythmia/A-Fib)

Bonus if you got the Red Hot Chili Peppers reference in the bullets!

Will Thanksgiving Dinner Kill Me?

Likely not. The risk of heart attack from eating a heavy meal is about the same as the risk from sex or a heavy workout. Only benefit of that large meal – I doubt you are moving on to sex and a workout after gorging on 4,500 fatty calories and a few bottles wine!

The usual suspects should be most concerned. Moderation is important for everyone, but more so if you already meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Heart attack history
  • Heart disease history
  • Heart bypass surgery
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Any combination of smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol

Personal note – I scored a 4 out of 5.

Strategies for Not Overeating

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is all about food! I think we are supposed be thankful for something also, not sure. Enjoy a few tasty treats but also try and control your portions. A few tips for not overeating:

  • Start healthy – Start the day on a positive not and get some exercise in early. Turkey Trot?
  • Eat early – Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch (depending on timing) before the feast. Proteins (eggs, poultry, etc.) help keep you full throughout the day.
  • Control portions – You should be able to carry your plate with one hand. Enough said.
  • Engage – The whole family is there, you might as well talk to them. And since you don’t talk with food in your mouth, automatic portion control.
  • Walk it off – Avoid the table to couch transition. A walk is a great family activity or a way to get some solitude!

Happy Thanksgiving

Back to the real purpose of the holiday – giving thanks. I am thankful for the opportunity to be here! I’m thankful for my health, family, and friends. And thanks to you for reading this.


Richwine, Lisa. “Heavy Meals May Trigger Heart Attacks.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.

“9 Classic Thanksgiving Recipes Made-over Healthy.” N.p., n.d. Web.

Photo credit: OctopusHat / Foter / CC BY-SA