(WEHT) – As the cold creeps closer, the American Heart Association (AHA) urges people to be cautious when it comes to dealing with the snowy aftermath, as the nonprofit organization says, it could lead to a heart attack.

A study conducted in Canada found that about seven to eight inches of snow was associated with men, not women, having 16% higher odds of being admitted to the hospital with a heart attack and 34% increase in dying from a heart attack.

According to the AHA’s 2020 scientific statement, snow shoveling places extra stress on the heart especially for those whose lifestyles are more sedentary with less regular exercise.

“Shoveling a little snow off your sidewalk may not seem like hard work. However, the strain of heavy snow shoveling may be as or even more demanding on the heart than taking a treadmill stress test, according to research results.” says Dr. William Gill, a cardiologist on the American Heart Association’s Indianapolis Board of Directors. “After only two minutes of snow shoveling, study participants’ heart rates exceeded 85% of maximal heart rate, which is a level more commonly expected during intense aerobic exercise testing. The impact is hardest on those people who are least fit.”

Dr. Gill compares shoveling snow to working in a freezer, saying the colder temperature can increase blood pressure while constricting the coronary arteries which combined with a higher heart rate, increases the risk of a heart attack.

“The impact of snow removal is especially concerning for people who already have cardiovascular risks like a sedentary lifestyle or obesity, being a current or former smoker, having diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, as well as people who have had a heart attack or stroke,” Gill said. “People with these characteristics and those who have had bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty simply should not be shoveling snow.”

The AHA advises people to be aware of the dangers of heart trouble and be prepared, taking frequent breaks if needed. It also recommends people push the snow, rather than picking it up.

More information can be found here.