When Shoveling Increases, So Do Heart Attacks

Studies show exertion-related cardiac deaths surge during storms
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2010 8:00 AM CST
When Shoveling Increases, So Do Heart Attacks
A man uses a snow shovel to shield snow from his face while walking down a normally busy street in Baltimore during a winter storm.   (AP Photo)

Take it easy, snow shoveler—your activity causes heart attacks. Well, not exactly, Slate reports, but 2 studies show a strong correlation between heavy snowfall and an increase in heart attack deaths. In one, deaths went up 22% in the week of Northeastern blizzards and remained up in the next week, which suggests activities related to the storm and not the actual weather caused the uptick.

In the other, researchers found that heart attack deaths related to strenuous physical activity rose during and after snowfall, and that most of them happened during or after shoveling. The results are not particularly surprising when you consider that couch potatoes prone to heart attacks can choose not to take a run, but have no choice when it comes to shoveling the driveway. (Read more snow shoveling stories.)

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