Shoveling snow increases the risk of heart attack


Whether it’s cleaning gutters, mowing the lawn, or vacuuming the living room, even the most organized homeowner can feel like they’re constantly struggling to keep up with their to-do list. . But in some cases, doing things around the house can also pose potential health risks, especially with age. And if you’re 45 or older, experts warn there’s one chore in particular that could increase your risk for a heart attack. Read on to see which task may be riskier than you think.

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While it can give you a break from mowing the lawn and watering your plants, winter presents a whole new set of maintenance tasks. But shoveling snow can be especially dangerous for people 45 and older, as it puts them at a significantly higher risk of heart attack.

Experts warn that while everyone’s health is different, research has shown the chore can be dangerous. “I think it’s really impossible to tell a certain age. I see people everyday; sometimes I see a guy that’s 70 who really looks and functions like he’s 40, and other people vice versa”, Barry franklin, MD, director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Michigan, recounts USA today. However, he adds that anyone 45 or older should be aware of the risk. “Shoveling snow is a very strenuous activity, especially since the cold temperatures impact your body, raising blood pressure while simultaneously contracting the coronary arteries. It really is a “perfect storm” for acute heart events, “he told the American Heart Association (AHA).

Other experts, such as Luc Laffin, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, suggests that people 55 and older find another way to get rid of snow besides going out with a shovel, especially if they have heart disease or aren’t particularly active. . “It’s like doing a stress test. I mean, it’s peak exercise,” he said. USA today.

emergency room sign
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A 2010 study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine analyzed data from 195,100 snow shoveling injuries that resulted in trips to the emergency room and were reported between 1990 and 2006. The results showed that 67.5 percent of the injuries reported occurred in men and 21.8 percent were reported in people 55 years of age or older.

The study found that soft tissue injuries were the most common, accounting for 54.7% of reported incidents, followed by lower back injuries at 34.3%. And while cardiac incidents made up just 6.7% of reported emergency room visits, they were also responsible for the 1,647 deaths seen in the study.

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Person shoveling snow on brick steps with a red shovel
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Ultimately, experts say that while middle-aged and senior adults are at risk, it’s arguably safer for anyone with a history of heart problems to avoid the drudgery altogether. “The impact of snow removal is particularly worrying for people who already have cardiovascular risks such as a sedentary lifestyle or obesity, being a current or former smoker, who suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol or ‘high blood pressure, as well as people who have had a heart attack or stroke,’ Franklin told the AHA. “People with these characteristics and those who have had bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty simply should not shovel snow.”

Experts suggest using an electric snowblower or pushing snow with your shovel rather than lifting it to reduce stress on the heart of anyone healthy enough to take care of the white matter on their own. And there’s always the hope that a neighbor or a younger relative will be willing to do the chore for a little extra cash. “If you are not in great shape, it is not a bad idea to outsource this task to someone else,” Laffin USA today.

couple gardening

Fortunately, not all household chores are as risky as shoveling. In fact, research has shown that some can have significant health benefits. A published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on March 19, 2019 set out to test the effects of leisure activity on heart health in the elderly. The researchers brought together 88,140 participants aged 40 to 85 from across the United States and monitored their health for over 11 years while assessing their level of physical activity.

The results revealed that participants who did 10 to 59 minutes of moderate physical activity per week in activities such as gardening, walking or dancing had a 18% lower risk of death regardless of the cause and a 12% reduction in the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke. Those who managed to get two to two and a half hours of moderate physical activity per week performed better with a reduced risk of death from all causes of 31%.

According to experts, while gardening doesn’t skyrocket your heart rate the same way a HIIT class does, subtle activity can still have an impact. significant effect on your health. “The actual movements involved in digging and raking all involve a lot of coordinated upper and lower body movements which actually increase the metabolic rate and may raise your heart rate a bit,” Michelle adams, a kinesiology and nutrition instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who was not involved in the study, told NBC Today. “Not at an intense level, but at a good low to moderate intensity level.”

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