When You're Most Likely to Have a Heart Attack, According to New Research

You might want to keep an eye on the weather forecast.

As much as we'd all like to stay snuggled up indoors the day (week?) after a big snowstorm, that's not always an option. We have work to do or errands to run, so we put on our puffiest coats, grab a shovel, and head out. It's not fun, but it's also NBD. Right?

Not necessarily, according to February 2017 research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal: Heavy snowfall is associated with an increased risk of heart attack — especially for men.

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University of Montreal researchers analyzed data from hospital patients in Quebec, Canada, between 1981 and 2014 across two different databases: one containing data on more than 120,000 hospital admissions for heart attacks and another containing data on more than 68,000 deaths from heart attacks. Specifically, they looked at the data from November through April (aka snow season) and compared it with detailed weather data from Environment Canada.

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Ultimately, the researchers found that a whopping one-third of all hospital admissions for heart attacks occurred the day after snowfall. And the link was even stronger when the snowfall lasted for two to three days. Perhaps the most surprising finding, however, was that the risk increased the day after snowfall for all men, regardless of age or cardiovascular risk factor — but women's risk wasn't affected by snowfall at all.

Why? The researchers believe post-snowstorm shoveling and traditional household roles might be to blame.

"Men are potentially more likely than women to shovel, particularly after heavy snowfalls," study author Nathalie Auger, MD, a principal scientist and assistant clinical professor at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center, said in a press release. "Snow shoveling is a demanding cardiovascular exercise requiring more than 75 percent of the maximum heart rate, particularly with heavy loads."

More research needs to be done to confirm this theory, but in the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to take things slow 'n' steady next time you need to clear the driveway — and make sure the men in your life do the same.

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