Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Here's Why Heavy Snowfall Is Linked To Higher Heart Attack Risk

A new study looks at the risk of suffering cardiac arrest while shovelling snow.	Phil Carpenter  Montreal Gazette A new study looks at the risk of suffering cardiac arrest while shovelling snow. Phil Carpenter Montreal Gazette
Stacy Diaz | 17 February, 2017, 01:35

In order to reach the findings, the team of researchers analysed the data from two separate administrative databases on 128,073 individual hospital admissions and around 68,155 deaths from heart attack (MI) in the province of Quebec between the year 1981 and 2014.

The risk of heart attack in men might increase when shoveling snow.

When snowfall continued for at least 24 hours, men were 8 percent more likely to be hospitalized for a heart attack and 12 percent more likely to die than when it didn't snow, the study found.

"Up to now, there was a theoretical risk that snow shoveling can increase heart attack at a population level", said Nathalie Auger, assistant clinical professor at the University of Montreal in Canada.

A study by the U.S. Nationwide Children's Hospital found that between 1990 and 2006, 1,647 fatalities were recorded in the United States from cardiac-related injuries associated with snow shoveling.

Before you dust of your shovel and start in on the driveway this winter, do not forget to follow these tips to keep yourself out of the emergency room, no matter your physical fitness: warm-up beforehand, shovel lots of small loads, take many short breaks, keep hydrated (no, not the yellow snow), and be reasonable about how much snow you need to clear to make it safe.

Snowfall was found to be associated not only a higher risk of having a heart attack, but also being admitted to the hospital for a heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), after heavy snowfall, particularly in men, based on results of a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Montreal analysed over 100-thousand hospital admissions and nearly 70-thousand deaths due to heart attack over three decades in the province of Quebec. This could be because men were more likely to take on the job of shoveling. The cold can also play a role by constricting blood vessels, increasing blood pressure, and even causing the heart to beat abnormally.

The authors noted limitations to the paper, including lack of data on sex-specific shovelling habits, size of areas shovelled or whether snow removal was manual or with a snowblower. Pushing the snow with the shovel instead of lifting can help reduce the strain on your body.

Choose your shovel wisely.

Older men may use ergonomically designed or lightweight shovelling to avoid any cardiovascular problems.

Hit the pause button.

The results don't specify why only men appeared to be affected by snow storms.

Keep up with snowfall. This is the period when there falls abundant snow. The longer snow stays on the ground, the wetter it can become.

Wear layers. Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature.