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Winter Health Hazards: Heart Attacks and Broken Bones

What Are The Potential Dangers of Winter Weather?

Sports aren't the only venues that use scoreboards. Find a hospital emergency department on the first big snowfall of the year, and there may be a running tally of a few common injuries and illnesses. Morbid humor sometimes allows the nurses and doctors to deal with the next patient rolling through the door. While the calendar may technically reflect autumn, an early December blizzard and blizzards throughout the winter will challenge the capacity of emergency services ranging from first responders to emergency departments and operating rooms.

Snow Shoveling Can Cause a Heart Attack

A large amount of snow usually means a large amount of shoveling, and the first listing on the scoreboard is, with apologies to Fred Sanford, "the big one." Clearing a sidewalk or driveway is an aggressive exercise and requires plenty of aerobic capacity to lift and toss shovels full of snow. It's like taking a cardiac stress test without all the medical people around. If there are blockages and narrowing in the coronary arteries (that supply the heart muscles with oxygen), the extra effort required of the heart to push blood to those exercising muscles may be enough to outstrip the heart of its own blood supply and cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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