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Snowstorms Cause Flock Of Heart Hospitalizations

Update Date: Feb 01, 2017 07:02 PM EST

A US study suggests thathospital admissions for heart problems may increase two days after the snowstorm passes. Researchers found that admission for heart attacks, chest pain, stroke and abnormal heart rhythm fell on the day of the storm because people can't get out for care.

Admissions were lower by 32 percent on the day of the major storm. Two days after the snowfall, 22 percent were admitted to the hospital for cardiovascular disease compared to days without snow.

According to Fox News, Dr. Jennifer Bobb, lead study author and researcher at Harvard University in Boston and investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, said "It's also possible that individuals may delay going to the hospital during high snowfall days, especially when there is a declared snow emergency or travel ban, leading them to come to the hospital in the next few days instead."

Previous research in the Amercian Journal of Epidemiology showed the potential for cardiac problems were due to overexertion while shoveling snow. Over the five winters in Boston where there were at least 10 inches of snow, shoveling was a heavy task.

Bobb and her team wanted to see the odds of hospital admission for heart problems, fall injuries and weather related issues, during and after the storms. They examined the data of 433,000 adults that were hospitalized at the four largest hospitals in Boston over the five winter seasons of November 2010 to April 2015. They studied 906 days where 110 had low snowfall of less than 5 inches, 11 moderate snowfall and 10 heavy snowfall.

On heavy snowfall days, researchers found an increase of 4 percent in weather related admissions for frostbite. Admissions due to cold exposure remained higher for five days after the storms. Admissions for falls were 18 percent higher after six days of a moderate snowfall.

According to TGH the study didn't include emergency department and clinic visits that didn't have admissions. The study relied on data from a single location in Boston and may not hold up in more suburban areas.

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