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HEALTH-e-TALK

Snow Shoveling? Get someone else to do it.

POSTED BY Kelly Hanretta, DO
December 11, 2018   |    0 comments
Low temperatures, high wind and less sunshine are not “heart-friendly.”
 

A recent European study has shown that there is a correlation between cold weather and cardiac arrest, with heart attacks occurring more frequently when the temperatures fall. The researchers showed a link between cardiac events and low temperatures, high wind and less sunshine, with the rate of heart attacks falling as the temperature approaches 40 degrees.
 
So, why would lower temperatures increase the risk of a heart attack? One reason is that cold makes the arteries constrict, which may not be a problem for someone who is healthy, but for someone who has 70 to 80 percent of their arteries blocked, this could significantly increase the danger. Also, lower temperatures increase the blood’s ability to clot.
 
Then, if you add activity that may increase blood pressure, like shoveling snow and following it with a cup of hot, caffeinated coffee to warm up afterward, you could really be asking for trouble.
 
I always instruct my cardiac patients and those with heart disease NOT to shovel and let someone else (younger and healthier) do the job.  Those neighborhood teenagers can earn some extra cash shoveling your walkway and driveway and clearing off your car.  
 
Unfortunately, I have seen this scenario of heart attack and cardiac arrest while shoveling happen all too often in the wintertime – even in my own family. If you are someone with risk factors for heart attack, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of smoking, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease, or you personally have already been diagnosed with heart disease, you are strongly advised to have someone else shovel your driveway.
 
And – to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, make sure you first clear any snow away from the tailpipe of your car before turning the car on and sitting in it.
 
Prevention is the best key year-round for good cardiac health.
 
Dr. Hanretta is a cardiologist at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates in Bronxville.

Tags: blood pressure, cardiac arrest, heart disease, heart problems, high blood pressure, snow shoveling
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