Preventing heart attacks after winter inactivity - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Prevent heart attacks after winter inactivity by easing back into yard work

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You may have heard of 'heart attack snow,' a phenomenon that can happen when people over-do it while shoveling. But winter isn't the only season that comes with health risks.

If you haven't gotten your heart pumping in awhile, you're probably out of shape. The extra stress of spring yard work could bring on a heart attack.

And if you've already got an underlying condition, like coronary artery disease, your risks are even greater.

"For that particular group of people, it is probably important to start slowly, don't overdo it," says Rockford Memorial Hospital Cardiologist, Dr. Erbert Caceres.

He recommend you treat yard work like exercise. This means you should try to gradually build up your endurance.  Begin with easier tasks first, take frequent breaks, or simply go for more walks.

"In the ideal world, if you are able to walk for 30 to 45 minutes 3 to 4 times a week, on a regular basis at a good pace, that's actually a good amount of exercise for most patients," says Dr. Caceres.  

Doctors say if you ever start to feel any tightness or pain in your chest while doing yard work, it may be a sign of a heart attack.  "You would probably be wise to talk to your primary care provider," says Dr. Caceres.  

But he says, don't let fear keep you indoors.  "No matter how you look at it, exercise is going to be good for you. It's good for your heart, it's good for your lungs if you have any form of lung disease."

Cardiologists say if you've been inactive, you might have developed a condition over the winter you may not even know about yet. So you'll want to listen to your body, and know when it's time to stop.

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