Popular Science

Don't let snow shoveling give you a heart attack

Clearing the driveway during a blizzard may be the perfect storm for a cardiac event.

shoveling snow

With snow comes shoveling, and with shoveling can come heart attacks.

Trudy Wilkerson/Shutterstock

If exercise is good for you, why do we worry that shoveling snow will raise the risk of a heart attack?

Snow shoveling can be vigorous exercise

Snow shoveling is a unique form of exertion. It can be vigorous and challenging to the cardiovascular system in general, and the heart in particular. When combined with the inherent environmental conditions of winter, snow shoveling during or after a blizzard may be the “perfect storm” for a cardiac event in those with known or “occult” (hidden) coronary disease.

First, a little background. The “risk-paradox” of exercise and other chronic diseases, vigorous exercise acutely increases the immediate risk of a cardiac event above that expected at rest. The risk of having a cardiac event while you are in a rested state is low, but you are more likely to have a cardiac event while performing vigorous exercise.

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