This is one of those "known truths" supported by what appears to be legitimate expert opinion on public media (see below).

But I couldn't find a scientific study of the issue, after all it could be just a coincidence.

“That is a perfect storm, in my opinion, to have a heart attack in cardiac patients,” Sharma said Cardiologist Barry Franklin, an expert in the hazardous effects of snow removal

1 Answer 1


About 100 a year in the USA.

An estimated 195 100 individuals (95% confidence interval, 140 400-249 800) were treated in US EDs for snow shovel–related incidents during the 17-year study period, averaging 11 500 individuals annually (SD, 5300). The average annual rate of snow shovel–related injuries and medical emergencies was 4.15 per 100 000 population. Approximately two thirds (67.5%) of these incidents occurred among males. Children younger than 18 years comprised 15.3% of the cases, whereas older adults (55 years and older) accounted for 21.8%. The most common diagnosis was soft tissue injury (54.7%). Injuries to the lower back accounted for 34.3% of the cases. The most common mechanism of injury/nature of medical emergency was acute musculoskeletal exertion (53.9%) followed by slips and falls (20.0%) and being struck by a snow shovel (15.0%). Cardiac-related ED visits accounted for 6.7% of the cases, including all of the 1647 deaths in the study. Patients required hospitalization in 5.8% of the cases. Most snow shovel–related incidents (95.6%) occurred in and around the home.

[emphasis added]

[ED = Emergency Department; SD = Standard Deviation]

Snow shovel–related injuries and medical emergencies treated in US EDs, 1990 to 2006 The American Journal of Emergency Medicine Volume 29, Pages 11–17 (2011).

  • @Brythan if you are looking for any particular information from the full text, let me know, I can add to the answer
    – DavePhD
    Dec 15, 2016 at 15:14
  • 1
    I only mentioned it to forestall thoughts like "Why not just click the link and look?" My only remaining curiosity probably isn't answered in that text. The question is if shoveling snow increases mortality over normal activity. Or if this hundred a year is what one would expect from the amount of time spent snow shoveling. I.e. if we distribute the 610,000 cardiac related deaths per year across all activities, would we expect to see more or less than 100 deaths that occurred during snow shoveling?
    – Brythan
    Dec 15, 2016 at 15:26
  • @Brythan I think a better article to address that is "Snow shoveling: A trigger for acute myocardial infarction and sudden coronary death" sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002914997891813 It says risk is increased by a factor of 164 for people with coronary artery disease when they exercise strenuously versus resting or light activity. Also, "Increase in deaths from ischaemic heart-disease after blizzards" ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/85066
    – DavePhD
    Dec 15, 2016 at 15:35
  • @Brythan: I would think the increased death rate from snow shovelling over normal activity depends very strongly on one's definition of "normal". If your daily life includes a good deal of fairly strenuous activity, snow shovelling is no big deal. OTOH, if your idea of exercise is sitting in front of the TV doing the 12 ounce curl, you may have problems :-)
    – jamesqf
    Dec 15, 2016 at 19:31
  • I know a cardiac patient who specifically asked about shovelling snow and was told it was a specifically bad idea due to the way people bear down while doing it. "If you must, move only a light shovelful at a time." That isn't an answer, but it's supporting evidence.
    – keshlam
    Dec 18, 2016 at 4:22

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