2 Your Health: Protecting Your Heart During the Winter Months; too much exertion can trigger a heart attack

The best way to maintain a healthy heart is through diet and exercise.

But too much exertion, too quickly, can actually trigger a heart attack, especially during cold weather months.

Doing too much too soon\

Dr. Leslie Cho, MD a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Institute warns that folks who are not used to a rigorous daily exercise routine should take caution when the snow starts to fly.

People with cardiac risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure are especially at risk.

“Shoveling snow is actually quite dangerous because it’s actually a very heavy workload,” said Cho. “If you haven’t been doing regular exercise and all of a sudden that first snowfall comes, and you’re shoveling a lot of snow out there, it can

create an excess burden.”

Cold is a factor

Dr. Cho said that medical providers often see an increase in heart attacks during the winter months.

The cold temperatures outdoors can certainly add to the risk, as cold temps cause the arteries to constrict, which can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure.

The increase in blood pressure, combined with too much physical exertion can be very dangerous.

Each year, shoveling snow sends more than 11,000 people to the hospital. While most have orthopedic injuries, 7 percent have cardiac problems, and many of these are heart attacks.

Tips for heart health anytime

Dr. Cho tells her patients that the best way to protect your heart during all seasons is eating healthy, performing regular exercise, and keeping stress levels to a minimum.

“You have to take it easy,” said Dr. Cho. “If you haven’t done any exercise throughout the year, maybe this is not the time to shovel your entire driveway.”

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