Whether it’s overexertion from shoveling snow, the stress of being stuck inside, or any number of other possible causes, a new study shows that the chance of a cardiovascular-related hospital admission significantly increases two days after a major snowstorm.
The report, published Monday in the American Journal of Epidemiology and produced by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, aimed to take a closer look at the health issues associated with cold weather and cold weather activities.
To do so, the researchers analyzed 433,037 admissions from 2010 to 2015 at the four largest hospitals in the Boston area.
The report found that the number of cardiovascular-related admissions at the hospitals declined on days when major snowstorms occurred but increased by 23% two days later.
In fact, cardiovascular disease admissions decreased by 32% on high snowfall days when more than 10 inches of the white stuff fell. Despite that decrease, the number of similar admissions increased 23% two days after.
Although researchers note that changes in temperature can lead to cardiovascular issues for consumers, they also believe that other factors likely play a role.
For example, snow shoveling may be a factor, as it puts more pressure on a person’s heart. As a result, the study found there was an elevated risk for ischemic heart disease and myocardial infraction.
While previous reports have looked at data to estimate cold weather temperatures and mortality and hospital admissions, the new study goes a step farther, providing a detailed characterization of other adverse health outcomes.
Specifically, cold-related admissions increased by 3.7% on high snowfall days, and remained high for five days after the storm. The largest increase in admissions occurred on days of moderate snowfall, but subsequent admissions declined.
Additionally, falls increased by 18% on average in the six days after moderate snowfall. On the fourth, fifth, and sixth day following a low snowfall, the report found a small but statistically significant risk of falls. For moderate snowfalls, days four and six after the event proved the most dangerous for falls.
Much of the country has six weeks or so of winter remaining, regardless of what happens on Groundhog Day, so there are still multiple opportunities for Mother Nature to wreak havoc.
Our colleagues at Consumer Reports recently offered tips on how consumers can shovel more safely, from warming up before the act, staying hydrated during, and using the right shove. For more tips, read the whole story here.