Here’s What You Need to Know

A fresh snowfall may make your neighborhood look like a winter wonderland, but don’t let the white stuff fool you. The task of shoveling all that snow can pose a major risk to your health. Now that we’re in the thick of snow season in the United States, the American Heart Association (AHA) is sounding the alarm that the exertion from shoveling may lead to an increased risk of a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

“The cardiac dangers of snow are woefully underestimated, and people should think twice if they’re middle aged or older about going out and shoveling heavy wet snow,” says Barry Franklin, PhD, the director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Michigan, and a spokesperson for the AHA.

Year after year, snow shoveling has been linked to a spike in cardiovascular events soon after major snowstorms, according to a 2020 AHA scientific statement.

A major study looking at snow-removal-related medical emergencies treated in the United States between 1990 and 2006 identified about 11,500 shoveling injuries over the 17-year span — cardiovascular events accounted for half of the hospitalizations and 100 percent of the deaths.

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