Maintaining Your Health
A Christian Brothers Services Publication

This Issue

Enjoy the Benefits
of Chicken

Turn to healthy
chicken dinners this
winter to fill you up.

Have a Change
of Heart About Shoveling Snow

Heart disease and strokes increase more than 50 percent in the winter months.

Don't Get Bit
With Frostbite!

Prevent frostbite this season with these simple steps.

I Spy Healthy Eyes

Your eyes are at greater risk of UV rays during the winter.


Have a Change of Heart About Shoveling Snow

In some countries, it has been reported that deaths and hospitalizations for heart disease and strokes increase more than 50 percent in the winter months. Cold weather seems to take most of the blame, but according to the Harvard Health Letter, there may be other reasons to blame as well, including short days and long nights that can throw heart-related hormones out of whack.

There are other stress triggers that can cause a wintertime heart attack and cardiac arrest as well, such as shoveling snow. Researchers found that in only two minutes, heart rates exceeded the maximum levels recommended for aerobic exercise. Such a major increase in heart rate is dangerous because it may rupture a cholesterol-laden plaque lodged in a blood vessel, triggering a heart attack.

Many people tend to shovel snow in the morning, clearing their driveway before going to work. Upon waking, the body experiences a sudden surge in blood pressure, heart rate and certain hormones. On top of that, blood plasma tends to be thicker in the morning. And whether you shovel in the morning or afternoon, both the cold air combined with the stress of heavy lifting will boost your blood pressure, adding to cardiac arrest.

If you have a regular exercise routine and you don’t smoke or have heart disease, it is unlikely that shoveling snow will trigger a heart attack. But the best protection against any heart-related emergencies is preparedness. According to Indiana’s Reporter Times, warm up and stretch before going out to shovel. Walk around your house to get your heart pumping. Start slowly and take breaks. When possible, push the snow instead of lifting it and remember it’s safer to lift two light loads than one heavy shovelful. Listen to your body and stop shoveling if you develop chest discomfort, undue fatigue or breathlessness, light-headedness or excessive perspiration. What’s even better is to hire an able-bodied teenager to do the job, especially if you are a man over 50 or a woman over 60.