A new Canadian study suggests that snow shoveling can increase heart attack at a population level. It was found that men should take caution while shoveling themselves out of snow.
“Up to now, there was a theoretical risk that snow shoveling can increase heart attack at a population level,” said Nathalie Auger, assistant clinical professor at the University of Montreal in Canada.
“With this study, we are now more certain that snowfall is linked with heart attack in individuals,” said Auger.
Augur, the researcher gathered reports of 128,073 hospital admissions and 68,155 deaths from heart attack in Quebec from November through April, every year between 1981 and 2014.
They also obtained weather information corresponding to the time frames and regions included in the study.
As they compared medical and weather data, the researchers found that the most dangerous days occurred immediately following snowfalls.
What was found in the study?
During the research study it was found that about one-third of hospital admissions and deaths due to heart attack occurred on these days, and the risk was even stronger after snowfalls that lasted two to three days.
About 60 per cent of the heart attack cases in the study were in men.
Days after snowfall, men had increased relative risks of being admitted to the hospital or dying – 16 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively - compared to other days during the study period.
This pattern traced to be true regardless of age, cardiovascular risk factors and other health conditions.
Women, on the other hand, did not appear to be at higher risk after snowfalls than on other days.
The findings also serve as a reminder that people need to be concerned about potential cardiovascular risks, in addition to snow-related falls and automobile accidents.
Older men may use ergonomically designed or lightweight shovelling to avoid any cardiovascular problems.
Since the study looked at trends over time, it is not able to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between snow-related activities like shovelling and heart attacks, researchers said.
The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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