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How can shoveling snow affect my heart?

Thomas Plut, DO
Sports Medicine
Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. It can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically. And if you aren't particularly active and then pick up a shovel and move hundreds of pounds of snow, the activity can put a big strain on your heart. A 2011 study conducted over two winters found that of 500 people who visited a hospital emergency room with heart problems, 7% began to experience symptoms while shoveling snow.
 
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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Recent data show that the classic "snow shoveler's heart attack" is all too real. In winter, the risk of stroke and heart attack climbs by as much as 12%, in part because blood pressure sneaks up when the thermometer plummets. Aggravate that by going from lazing by the fire to trying to clear the driveway faster than your neighbor's snowblower and it's easy to put your ticker on overload.

Ease into heavy-duty outdoor work. Take plenty of breaks. Scoop up smaller, lighter loads with your shovel, and keep up your 30-minute walks so you're no stranger to activity (do 'em indoors if you have to).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.