With winter around the corner, it is important to begin and prepare for the health risks the season brings. Most common risks are colds, joint pains and injuries caused by slipping on ice. But, there’s one more potential risk that should make you concerned: snow shoveling can cause heart attack.
Until now, most believed the urban myth of having a heart attack because of snow shoveling is just an excuse to get out of doing chores. Most wives didn’t take into account that this might actually be a serious health risk. But, the myth goes well beyond the snowy suburbs.
According to Medical News Today, two of the most important cardiology associations in the U.S. actually see snow-shoveling as a high risk physical activity. However, before saying your goodbye to the shovel, the citation references mention that the warning is based on one or two incidents. So, these might have even been coincidental and the underlying cause of the heart attack could have been completely different.
Adrian Baranchuk is a professor in Queen’s School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Kingston General Hospital. Together with his team, he has reviewed KGH patient records from the last two winter seasons to see if the myth had any solid evidence.
The study started on the premise that the one or two incidents “should not be enough to convince us that snow-shoveling is potentially dangerous”. And after looking at 500 patients that reported heart problems during the two previous winter seasons, 7 percent said they were experiencing symptoms while shoveling snow.
This means that out of 500, 35 patients had health problems developed while shoveling snow. As Dr. Baranchuk points out “that is a huge number, 7 per cent of anything in medicine is a significant proportion”. In fact, the figure could be even higher since the study “may have missed some patients who did not mention that they were shoveling snow around the time the episode occurred”.
On top of showing that snow-shoveling can be linked with heart attacks, Dr. Baranchuck’s team also identified the category of people with high of suffering a heart attack when shoveling snow. Thus, men who smoke and have a family history of premature coronary artery disease might want to talk over this with their physicians.