Snowy days, and the day after snowstorms, lead to a spike in heart attacks in men, a new study confirms.
Canadian researchers report an association between snowy days and an increase in hospital admissions and deaths from heart attack, but they found the effect only in men. They strongly suspect that snow shoveling is the cause, though they did not have the data to prove it.
The scientists analyzed hospital admissions and heart attack deaths in Quebec from 1981 to 2014. From November to April in those years, there were 128,073 hospital admissions for heart attack and 68,155 deaths.
The longer it snowed, and the deeper it got, the greater the danger. One day of snow of two inches or more was associated with a 14 percent increased risk for death by heart attack, while two to three days of snowfall was linked to a 20 percent increase. An eight-inch snowfall was associated with a 16 percent increased risk for hospital admission the next day, and a 34 percent increased risk for death by heart attack.
The study, in The Canadian Medical Association Journal, controlled for cardiovascular risk factors and for the temperature.
“The problem is there for all men,” said the lead author, Nathalie Auger, of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center. “If you don’t have to shovel, don’t — unless you’re physically fit. It’s a hard physical activity.”
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