By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s a potential problem linked to indulging in holiday festivities this time of year. It’s party time, but the holiday festivities can take a toll.

Some people may notice a faster than normal or fluttering heart rate, especially after they’ve been celebrating.

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Holiday heart syndrome can happen to anyone, not just heart patients.

‘Tis the season of holiday parties powered by fatty, salty hors d’oeuvres with plenty of booze to wash them down.

The combination can create holiday heart syndrome — a term coined in 1978 to describe the sudden increase of patients in emergency rooms during the holidays complaining of irregular heart rhythms known as atrial fibrillation — or AFib.

“One of the things we always tell our patients is that you can have whatever you want, but it has to be in moderation,” said Dr. Leslie Cho.

Moderation is challenging for many during all the holiday festivities.

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While having existing heart disease makes people more vulnerable to holiday heart syndrome, doctors say the sudden onset of AFib mostly strikes perfectly healthy people.

Combining alcohol and salty foods increases blood pressure and causes other heart problems.

After a night of holiday indulgence, many people turn to anti-inflammatory medications commonly taken to relieve hangover symptoms. But they can put even more stress on the heart.

“They tend to increase your blood pressure too,” Cho said. “So if they increase your blood pressure, some people end up having heart failure because it’s like a vicious cycle. So it’s really important just to watch what you’re eating and doing.”

While holiday heart syndrome isn’t usually dangerous, it can be.

One study found that heart attack risk spiked 15% during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays.

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The risk also increased right after New Year’s Eve.

Stephanie Stahl