Most heart attacks at this time of year are due to snow clearing activities, says internist Eva Ornella from the Hospital of the Brothers of Charity in Sankt Veit an der Glan in Carinthia.
The internist explains why the mix of cold and an unusual exertion like shoveling snow can be life-threatening: The cold air constricts the blood vessels. The vasoconstrictive effect of the cold is again significantly increased by the pressing arm work when shoveling snow.
Muddy, heavy snow
“The heart has to pump more, blood pressure rises,” says Eva Ornella, describing the processes in the human body. Surprisingly, the risk is even higher when the temperatures are just above zero degrees. “Then the snow is muddy and heavy and shoveling is even more strenuous,” says the doctor.
Patients with known coronary heart disease or angina pectoris are particularly at risk. “It’s important to start slowly and take breaks when it gets strenuous,” recommends the internist.
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