By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s called the holiday heart syndrome. It doesn’t only occur during the holiday season, although that’s how it got its name, but it’s not a coincidence that it does occur during the holidays.

Is it a direct result of peace and joy and good will toward men? No. It is a direct result of celebrations, the stress that surrounds the holidays, and people drinking more alcohol.

It can affect the heart rate and in some cases lead to irregular heartbeats. Sometimes, these irregular beats can lead to other problems. In rare cases, a heart attack can be the result.

There are other contributing factors, but understand alcohol and that high amount of rich food can be a problem.