Snow shovelling
Snow shovelling may increase heart attack risk, according to a new study. (Photo: Dan DeLuca)

logo.jpgSnowfall is associated with a higher risk of hospitalization for heart attack after heavy snowfall – especially in men, according to a new study.

The paper is published in this month's Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ)​.

The authors believe that snow shovelling is the main link between heavy snowfall and heart attack. The team of researchers compared data of hospitalization and deaths due to heart attack and crossed referenced detailed weather information for that region.

Dr. David Alter, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, UHN, wrote a commentary about the study, which is also published in this month's issue of CMAJ.

"The findings add weight to our understanding that snow shovelling in cold temperatures puts strain on the cardiovascular system because of the workload on the arms rather than the legs," Dr. Alter says. "This sets the stage for an 'eco-biological-behavioural perfect storm' for heart attack if a person has risk factors."

Dr. Alter notes that there are some limitations to the study.

"We have no information on patients' snow-shovelling activities, their symptoms or other their other behaviours that may have occurred before, during or after the snowfall."

He does agree that this is an opportunity to heighten public health awareness for certain individuals to avoid snow shovelling, especially after heavy snowfalls. The population he would target is men over 50 years of age who have heart disease risk factors and are physically unfit or sedentary.

Read the CBC.ca story​​



Dr. David Alter
Dr. David Alter, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, UHN, authored the commentary. (Photo: UHN)

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