ISLAMABAD: A Canadian study suggests on Tuesday that snow shoveling to an increased risk of heart attacks in the days following major storms.
When snowfall continued for at least 24 hours, men were 8 percent more likely to be hospitalized for a heart attack and 12 percent more likely to die than when it didn’t snow, the study found.However, this didn’t happen for women.
Compared with periods without any snow, men were 16 percent more likely to have a heart attack and 34 percent more likely to die from a heart attack after a storm dropped at least 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) of snow, the study found.
Women, however, didn’t appear to have an increased risk of heart attack after a major snowfall.
They found that both the quantity and duration of snowfall were associated with an increased risk of heart attack for men but not women, a lead study author of the University of Montreal, Dr Nathalie Auger said.
The findings suggest people should be more cautious when shoveling and avoid it whenever possible, especially if they have a history of heart problems, Auger said.
“It may be that men shovel more than women, particularly after heavy snowfalls,” Auger added by email. “It is also possible that men put more effort into shoveling, and have a tendency to overdo it.”
Limitations of the study include the lack of data on whether people did in fact shovel snow, or how hard they worked if they did, the authors note. People might not exert themselves as much removing snow with a snow blower as they would shoveling it by hand, the researchers point out.
“We really don’t know for certain whether snow shoveling was the only explanation for their results,” Dr David Alter of the University of Toronto said by email. “There are studies that have shown mechanistically, how much strain is placed on the heart during snow shoveling.”
Women also shouldn’t assume from these results that they wouldn’t boost their risk of a heart attack by overexertion while shoveling snow, added Alter, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.
“The risks do not only extend to men,” Alter said. “If you are sedentary, not participating in regular exercise, and over the age of 50 with risk factors for heart disease or with established heart disease, I would not recommend snow shoveling.”
If it’s unavoidable, Alter recommends bundling up to keep warm and using a snow blower if possible or using a shovel to push snow aside rather than to heave it up and toss it into a pile. -APP