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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke December 9, 2022

‘Holiday heart syndrome’ isn’t new, and it’s not a cover for COVID-19 vaccine side effects

If Your Time is short

  • The phrase “holiday heart syndrome” was first coined in 1978. It’s not a cover for COVID-19 vaccine side effects. 

A recent news headline about a condition called "holiday heart syndrome" is drawing the attention of COVID-19 vaccine skeptics on social media, but claims that the syndrome is a cover for purported vaccine-caused deaths don’t stand up to scrutiny. 

"Holiday heart syndrome: Doctors warning about this ‘perfect storm,’" reads the Dec. 6 headline from a Fox affiliate in Cleveland. 

"Now they’re blaming people dropping dead on the happy holidays because of course," one Instagram post sharing the headline said. "They’re totally not just making s--- up to cover up for the fact they just tricked people into taking an experimental clot shot that weakened their immune system as they head into cold and flu season." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The article accompanying the headline in the post quotes a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who explains that "holiday heart syndrome is really this mix, this perfect storm of a lot of different factors that come together during the holiday season that increase our overall risk of having a heart attack." Think: eating, drinking and traveling more, combined with exercising and taking care of ourselves less. 

But this so-called syndrome isn’t new. And it predates the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines. 

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The term was coined in 1978 to describe occurrences of heart arrhythmias in healthy people without heart disease after binge drinking, according to a 2013 article on the National Library of Medicine’s website. 


"The name is derived from the fact that episodes were initially observed more frequently after weekends or public holidays," the article says. 

News outlets also covered "holiday heart syndrome" before the pandemic. 

In December 2019, for example, CNN ran this headline: "‘Holiday heart syndrome’: What is it and how to avoid it." 

More recently, The New York Times reported that it’s "really just another phrase for alcohol-induced atrial fibrillation, or AFib, which is a rapid, chaotic heart rhythm." Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common cardiac conditions, and it’s also been connected to the virus that causes COVID-19. 

We rate claims that "holiday heart syndrome" is a cover for deaths caused by the COVID-19 vaccine False.


Our Sources

Instagram post, Dec. 6, 2022

The New York Times, Holiday drinking can harm your heart, Dec. 1, 2022

CNN, ‘Holiday heart syndrome’: What is it and how to avoid it, Dec. 12, 2019

Medscape, Holiday heart syndrome, May 30, 2018

National Library of Medicine, Holiday heart syndrome revisited after 34 years, August 2013

Baystate Health, Holiday heart syndrome: Knowing the symptoms could save your life, Nov. 22, 2022

Cleveland Clinic, How you can avoid holiday heart syndrome, Dec. 3, 2021

WJW-TV, Holiday heart syndrome: Doctors warning about this ‘perfect storm,’ Dec. 6, 2022

PolitiFact, Posts suggest without evidence that vaccine caused J.J. Watt’s AFib, Oct. 5, 2022


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‘Holiday heart syndrome’ isn’t new, and it’s not a cover for COVID-19 vaccine side effects

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