Shoveling snow can lead to fatal heart attacks

Take on this major task only if you are in good shape, exercise regularly and can handle the cold.Jankor / iStock

Take on this major task only if you are in good shape, exercise regularly and can handle the cold.

Digging out from the snowpacalypse? One word: Don’t.

Lifting heavy snow in the frigid air can create a form of exercise that can kill even the seemingly healthy.

Eight people have died while clearing snow. Five in the city and two on Long Island while shoveling and one man suffered a fatal heart attack while using a snow blower on Liong Island. All were men between 61 and 94.

“Cold weather can cause a decrease in blood supply and oxygen to the heart,” says Dr. Steven Reisman of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center. “The supply of oxygen is diminished and the demand is increased because they are working quite hard doing exercise they don’t do and that is a problem.”

The raised blood pressure and heart rate combined with restricted blood vessels results in roughly 1,640 snow-shoveling deaths a year, according to a study by the US Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Another study in the United Kingdom found that for just one degree Celsius drop, there was a 2% rise in heart attacks within the next 28 days. One degree Celsius is equivalent to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

NRlisa combs/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Six New Yorkers – two in Far Rockaway, one on Staten Island’s South Shore and three on Long Island in Smithtown, West Hempstead and Huntington Station – died while shoveling snow during the blizzard.

Fighting the elements is very different from working out in a climate-controlled gym, where runners may hop off the treadmill if feeling dizzy. People shoveling tend to finish the task, even when not feeling well.

“If you are taking aspirin, you may be slightly protected,” Reisman says.

His main advice for anyone at risk, though, is simply: don’t.

“Somebody who is not in great shape should not be shoveling snow if over 40 or 45 or younger with cardia risk factors of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking or a family history of heart disease,” he says. “Obesity is a big risk factor for heart attacks and not just in cold weather.”

He reminds people to heed the usual warnings of dressing warmly and pacing and not overextending yourself, but the most important advice is: “If you are falling into a high-risk category, get somebody else to do it.”

jcutler@nydailynews.com

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Health – NY Daily News

Source: New York Daily News