[Paleopsych] NYT: Really?: The Claim: Shoveling Snow Can Set Off a Heart Attack

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Wed Feb 2 21:50:17 UTC 2005

The New York Times > Health > Really?: The Claim: Shoveling Snow Can
Set Off a Heart Attack


The Claim: Shoveling Snow Can Set Off a Heart Attack


    T HE FACTS As Americans dig their way out of the blizzard that
    blanketed parts of the Northeast last month, reports of people
    suffering heart attacks, snow shovel in hand, have surfaced. Many
    people do not take the risk seriously. But the claim that clearing
    snow is so strenuous that it can be deadly is no exaggeration, experts

    Just being out in the cold raises blood pressure. Add to that the fact
    that shoveling is a tension-inducing isometric exercise, like weight
    lifting, and that it is often performed by older, otherwise sedentary
    men, and it is no surprise that the activity is linked to heart
    attacks, said Dr. Jacob I. Haft at the University of Medicine and
    Dentistry of New Jersey.

    In a small study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in
    1996, Dr. Haft found that most heart attacks from shoveling resulted
    from trauma to coronary arteries, rupturing plaques that disrupt blood

    Most victims have no history of heart disease. In some cases, up to a
    quarter of those afflicted are women, a 1999 study by the National
    Center for Environmental Health found.

    When shoveling must be done, it is best to do it early, when the snow
    is lighter, and in short stints, not all at once. Any exercise that
    involves the upper extremities puts added stress on the cardiovascular
    system, Dr. Haft said, so be cautious.

    THE BOTTOM LINE Clearing snow is a common trigger of heart attacks,
    particularly in people with no previous history of cardiovascular

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