Blizzard in Ottawa: A recent snowstorm led to an increase in heart attacks overnight
The University of Ottawa Heart Institute saw an increase in heart attack patients Monday night directly linked to snow shoveling, according to a local cardiologist.
Monday’s storm brought 48 cm of snow to Ottawa in a single day. It was the snowiest day in town since 2016 and the snow shovels were out in force.
Unfortunately, as cardiologist Dr. Hassan Mir from the Divisions of Cardiology and Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute says, the task of shoveling landed several people in the hospital.
“We had several heart attacks that were not only minor but several major heart attacks that required emergency treatment with stenting and we saw several of them overnight,” Mir told Newstalk 580 CFRA. “Several directly related to people shoveling their driveway and having to call 911.”
speaking on Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron, Mir said that shoveling snow is a perfect storm of risk factors for heart problems.
“It’s a combination of it being very cold outside causing constriction or narrowing of blood flow to the whole body but especially the heart and at the same time you’re lifting heavy, which dramatically increases the amount of workload on the heart by increasing heart rate and blood pressure,” he explained. “This results in a mismatch between a lack of blood flow and an increased need for blood flow. “
While Monday’s storm was unique in size, Mir said such issues are common every winter.
“Any type of stressor to the heart can cause excessive additional stress on the coronary arteries – that is, the arteries of the heart – and that subsequently causes a small tear and can cause this massive heart attack. We see it every year in the winter and especially after a big snowstorm,” he said.
Men over 55, smokers, people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol and people with diabetes are at increased risk of serious illness from shoveling, Mir said, but even people with no history of heart problems can end up suffering from a heart. attack by shoveling.
“Speaking of the past 24 hours, at least three of the patients have never had heart problems and then came in shoveling snow and had their first heart attack and their first heart problem,” he said. .
The weight of the snow makes a difference, Mir said, although the shoveling activity can still be strenuous regardless.
“If it’s fluffy and soft, there’s a lot less weight and a lot less work on your body, your muscles and your heart, but if it’s heavy, wet snow, it usually makes it worse,” said he declared. “Our advice is generally not to lift the snow; push it aside rather than lifting it heavily.”
And if you experience symptoms, seek help immediately.
“If you experience chest discomfort, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, lightheadedness, palpitations, please stop, call 911, call for help,” Mir said. “We are saying that there is an increase in hospitalizations, but this is by no means a suggestion that you should not call for help. We still have room for our patients, so please , if you experience symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.”
Here are some tips from the Public Health Agency of Canada to keep you safe while shoveling:
Warm up. Give your muscles a chance to prepare for the exercise you’re about to put your body through. Do some basic stretches to relax and increase circulation.
Don’t dig on a full stomach. Give yourself some time to digest before taking a scoop, as exercising right after a meal can strain your heart.
Shovel with a buddy. If possible, ask for help to clear the snow. This will reduce your shoveling and allow you to keep an eye on each other.