Hamilton ER’s see rise in heart attacks following snowstorm

Hamilton Health Sciences advise those at risk to exercise caution when clearing snow, following a spike in heart attacks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Hamilton Health Sciences says emergency departments saw a significant increase in the number of heart attack patients Monday, likely due to people clearing the heavy snow.

Dr. Craig Ainsworth, director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Hamilton General Hospital says statistically they see a rise in heart attacks and heart-related deaths after significant snowfalls.

“Repeatedly lifting heavy snow causes your heart rate to increase and blood pressure to rise considerably”, Ainsworth says, “for some people, especially those with certain risk factors, this can lead to a heart attack.”

Read more: Much of Hamilton, Niagara Region saw between 40 to 50 cm during snow storm

Doctors are advising those at risk, to put down the shovel, and ask a neighbour or friend for help.

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If you must shovel, Ainsworth says to be on the look out for warning signs of a heart attack. That includes uncomfortable chest pain or pressure, pain in the shoulders, neck and arms, light-headedness, significant sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath.

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