Fall Yardwork Can Strain Your Heart

Know the warning signs of trouble

woman doing fall yard clean up

Preparing for winter usually means lots of leaf-raking, tree-trimming and gutter-cleaning.

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It’s known that shoveling snow can put you at risk for heart attack, particularly if you’re older or have heart disease.

If that’s the case, it’s important to be careful during your fall clean-up, too. 

Why yardwork can put you at risk

Cardiologist David Frid, MD, says to remember that heavy yardwork can also be hard on your heart.

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“When you use your arms you’re actually putting a lot more demand on your heart than when you’re using your legs,” says Dr. Frid.

Raking leaves is one of the autumn chores that can have the biggest impact on your heart. It’s considered an aerobic activity because of all the twisting and bending involved. Clearing debris and trimming trees and bushes can get your heart pumping too.

Listen to your body for warning signs

If you have a history of heart disease, are older or aren’t physically active, Dr. Frid suggests warming up before you start — working the muscle groups you’ll be using — and take frequent breaks.

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And listen to your body for any potential warning signs of trouble as you work, such as:

  • Chest pain accompanying the work you’re doing
  • Chest pain that persists
  • Pain that goes away when you stop working, then returns when you start again
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

If you experience these signs, and of course any other symptoms of heart attack, do not hesitate. Call 9-1-1 right away.

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