Urgent Care in Bloomfield & Plymouth
Call Now for Bloomfield Urgent Care 248.230.2918
Call Now for Plymouth Urgent Care 734.404.7508

The Link Between Shoveling and Heart Attacks

With icy roads outside and the flu lurking around every corner, it’s no surprise that Urgent Care facilities and Emergency Rooms are more crowded in the winter.

But what may surprise you is the spike in people admitted due to a heart attack or other heart-related conditions.

Can Shoveling Snow Cause a Heart Attack?

The idea that shoveling snow can cause a heart attack isn’t entirely correct. What causes a heart attack is the stress an arm activity, such as shoveling, puts on your cardiovascular system. When combined with near-freezing temperatures (which make your blood vessels contract), you have a recipe for disaster.

Arm exercises notoriously put more stress on your heart than leg or other lower body workouts. In fact, one study of young, healthy men found that their heart rate was higher while shoveling than running on a treadmill.

How You Can Protect Your Heart in the Winter

Heart health should always be a priority, but there are even more precautions you should take in the winter to protect and strengthen your heart.

  • Do not shovel if you’re elderly or sick.
  • If you are healthy enough to shovel, do so in the afternoon when you’re not in a rush to get out of the house and your cardiovascular system has had time to warm up throughout the day.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits, veggies, grains, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fresh tuna.
  • Quit smoking or never start.
  • Exercise inside. As we said, it’s not shoveling, specifically, that causes a heart attack, but rather upper body exercises of any kind in the cold.

Signs of a Heart Attack

Though they can vary person to person, you should call 911 if you think you’re experiencing:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Tightness in your upper body
  • Shortness of breath

In women, symptoms of a heart attack tend to include the above, as well as pain in the jaw, nausea, and severe shortness of breath.

Another way to reduce your risk of a heart attack is to get routine medical screenings and preventative treatment, like lab work and blood pressure tests.