What Physical Activities Should I Avoid After Having A Heart Attack?

Question: What physical activities should I avoid after having a heart attack?

Answer: You know we always talk about the benefits of exercise, and exercise is extremely beneficial for people who've suffered heart attacks. But I've also told patients over the years that exercise, unfortunately, is a double-edged sword. It protects against, but it can also trigger, acute cardiovascular events.

A key example is snow shoveling or snow removal. Every year we read about people with known heart disease or hidden heart disease who went out shoveled heavy wet snow.

We actually did some studies a few years ago and found that shoveling heavy wet snow brings the heart rate and blood pressure to levels that are equivalent to or greater than maximal treadmill testing.

And when you couple that with the fact that you go outside and you're breathing that cold air, so that decreases the blood supply to your heart, and then you're asking your heart to do a maximal treadmill test, as George Clooney would say, "It's a prescription for disaster." In many respects, it's a perfect storm. And as a result, we see many heart attacks each year as a result of snow removal.

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