You may be feeling wonderful if you were lucky enough to miss the latest snow storm. Some may think we’ve seen the end of winter. This could be a very good thing as new research shows that shoveling can increase the risk of having a heart attack, especially as we age. Shoveling and other strenuous activities which involve lifting, place a large amount of strain on your arms in comparison to your legs. This can increase your heart rate, blood pressure and the oxygen demand of your cardiovascular system, all bad risk factors for a heart attack.1
The most important thing, no matter the season, is to be aware of the warning signs that can typically signal a heart attack.2
1) Chest discomfort is frequently one of the first symptoms. The squeezing and often painful feeling will start in the middle of the chest and last a few minutes before sometimes disappearing.2
2) Discomfort in other places of the upper body is also common. Neck pain, arm discomfort, shoulder pain, back pain and even stomach pain can all be warning signs.3
3) Shortness of breath will almost always happen to patients experiencing a heart attack.2
4) Sweating or feeling nauseous and lightheaded along with the above signs could also mean you are experiencing a heart attack.2
The other most important thing is to know what to do if you are experiencing any of the above signs. Act fast is the number one rule if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of a heart attack. Every minute matters in these situations. Calling 911 is the best way as even while in route to the hospital you can be receiving lifesaving medications!2 Every 43 seconds someone in the US is experiencing a heart attack.3 Be sure you know what to do if that next person happens to be you!
1. MetroHealth: Cold Weather Snow Shoveling and Your Risk for Heart Attack. Available at: http://www.metrohealth.org/shoveling-and-your-risk-for-heart-attack Accessed 2-26-17.
2. American Heart Association: Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Warning-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_002039_Article.jsp#.WLOOIfkrLIU Accessed 2-26-17.
3. CDC: Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/signs_symptoms.htm Accessed 2-26-17.