Take caution when shoveling yourself out of a fresh snowstorm: A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal finds that days following heavy snowfall carry a higher risk of heart attack for men.
The study backs up what’s long been suspected in the medical community. “Up to now, there was a theoretical risk that snow shoveling can increase heart attack at a population level,” says Dr. Nathalie Auger, assistant clinical professor of social and preventive medicine at the University of Montreal. “With this study, we are now more certain that snowfall is linked with heart attack in individuals.”
To reach this conclusion, Auger and her co-authors 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.
When they compared the medical and weather data, the researchers found that the most dangerous days occurred immediately following snowfalls. 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.