There are the murmurings out there that shoveling snow can cause a heart attack. We’ve long thought that it happens every so often, but just in some incidences. Now the evidence points to men who have a family history of heart disease. It is they who should be cognizant about the risks that winter snow can bring…when it is on your driveway.
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Two of the most important cardiology associations in the U.S. include snow-shoveling on their web sites as a high-risk physical activity. But the evidence didn’t seem convincing enough for a group of researchers. So they went to work.
They reviewed hospital patient records from the two previous winter seasons and came to this discovery: of 500 patients who came to the hospital with heart problems during this period, 35 of them (seven percent) had started experiencing symptoms while shoveling snow.
They call this a “huge” number. In fact, seven percent of anything in medicine is a significant proportion. What’s more is, perhaps they missed some patients that could have been shoveling snow around the time of a heart attack, but failed to mention it to the doctors. It is conceivable that the number of people could be double that.
The study also identified three main factors that put individuals at a high risk when shoveling snow. Number one was gender. That’s because 31 of the 35 people who had heart problems were men. Number two was a family history of premature coronary artery disease (20 of the 35 patients). Number three was smoking (16 out of 35 patients).
Thus, for men out there who do have a genetic link to heart disease, and for those who smoke, be particularly mindful of shoveling snow. Prevention, after all, is the best medicine. And that lowly snow shovel in the garage may not be your best friend. Either learn how to shovel without exhausting your body or putting your heart into overdrive, invest in a snow blower, or have a neighbor or friend’s son help you out.
This isn’t just for older adults; it is for all adults.