mission, kan., December 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — (Family Traits) Clearing sidewalks and driveways may be essential to avoiding blockages, but be careful when picking up the shovel or starting the snowblower is required. Studies show that many people face an increased risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest after shoveling heavy snow.
In fact, the American Heart Association Scientific Statement “Exercise-Related Acute Cardiovascular Events and Potential Harms Indications After Long-Term Exercise Training: Putting Risks in Perspective – Update.” Many others over the years Scientific research studies have also confirmed the dangers of shoveling snow for people with or without previous known heart disease.
“Shoveling sidewalks may not seem like a lot of work,” he said. Barry FranklinPh.D., FAHA, lead author of a scientific statement, longtime American Heart Association volunteer, and professor of internal medicine University of Auckland William Beaumont College of Medicine. “However, studies we have conducted show that heavy snow shoveling loads can be as hard on the heart as, if not more than, taking a treadmill stress test. It exceeded 85%, which is the level generally expected during a test of vigorous aerobic exercise, with the effects being most severe in the least fit individuals.”
Franklin said winter weather in general can contribute to increased risk. Cold temperatures raise blood pressure and constrict the coronary arteries. These factors, combined with the increased heart rate from extra exercise, can increase the risk of acute heart disease. There’s even a study showing an increased risk of heart attack among people who use snowplows.
“The impact of snow plowing is significant in people with pre-existing cardiovascular risks such as sedentary lifestyles and obesity, current or former smokers, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and those with heart disease. It is of particular concern for those who have a seizure or stroke,” Franklin said. “People with these characteristics or who have undergone bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty should not shovel snow.”
Stop the activity immediately if you experience chest pain or tightness, lightheadedness, palpitations, or irregular heartbeat. If you stop shoveling snow and the symptoms do not go away immediately, call 119. If you see someone collapsed while shoveling snow, get help and start Hands-Only CPR if the person is pulseless and unresponsive.
Learn about colds and cardiovascular health at Heart.org.
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