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Seasonal Heart Trouble

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It is leaf-raking season- and almost snow-shoveling season- and according to some doctors, that makes it heart trouble season.  Geisinger officials say they see a spike this time of year in cardiac issues.

Dr. Steve Voyce warns, it can be a dangerous time of year where  your heart is concerned.
"Anytime the weather changes we see an increase in cardiac events.  In particular, anything that means changes in physical activity," said Dr. Voyce. 

He's director of cardiology at Geisinger CMC in Scranton, and he calls this time of year a so-called perfect storm for cardiac events: intense physical activity plus heavy lifting plus cold weather can equal strain on the heart.  That goes for raking leaves and hunting, but also for shoveling wet snow.
"You see this occur in patients who have been sedentary, they haven't been doing a lot of physical activity through the year and now are pushed into shoveling snow or raking a yard full of leaves," said Dr. Voyce.

The best thing you can do, he says, is to be honest with yourself about your level of fitness.  Consider talking to your doctor about getting a physical if you have concerns.

"Certainly if you have risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or cigarette smoking, of if somebody in your family has had problems in their 40's or 50's," he points out.