We've all heard the stories of how shoveling snow can increase your risk of a heart attack. But now, research shows falling temperatures can contribute to higher odds of a heart attack even if you're not clearing a path from your driveway.
"Cold weather can increase blood pressure. And though scientists aren't sure why, it can also raise cholesterol levels, and these are two key risk factors for heart attack," said Catherine Roberts of Consumer Reports.
And a number of other factors can also raise your risk of heart attack, including being 65 or older, or having heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
One simple but key strategy for protecting your heart during the winter is to stay warm.
Tips for preventing snow shoveling injuries
"As you get older, your sense of how cold you are may diminish, so it's important to dress in loose layers and don't forget a hat and gloves," she said.
For men, the classic chest pain is the number one symptom of a heart attack, but not the only one. Other symptoms include nausea; vomiting; and upper-body pain in the arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or abdomen.
"While chest pain is a key symptom for women too, other prominent signs include, overwhelming fatigue; shortness of breath; and nausea, among others," said Roberts.
If you suspect you're having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. And don't think about driving yourself to the hospital. Trained paramedics can offer life-saving help while getting you to the hospital faster.
CR also says before you go outside and start shoveling snow, try some light physical activity to warm up, like running in place.