Heart Attacks Spike During The Holidays

Statistics show that heart attacks are more common during the winter months, in particular over the Christmas holidays. Researchers have studied this for years with many ideas of why this is.

Perhaps it’s related to the overall excitement and hustle and bustle of the season. Perhaps it’s caused by the financial stress seeing that Visa bill after buying that special shinny gift for your loved one which was way over budget. Or perhaps it’s the added stress of coordinating and attending holiday parties with friends and extended family, (who you only see once a year for a reason.)  Regardless, it’s important to understand and recognize triggers for stress to limit the risk of heart complications.

When does a Heart Attack occur?

A heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood is unable to get to your heart. Often this is caused by coronary artery disease which is the narrowing of the arteries. CAD is a condition where a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. Over time, these areas of plaque can rupture inside of the artery and cause a clot. If this occlusion becomes large enough, it can limit the flow of the blood and prevent adequate oxygen to the heart. This, in turn, can cause a heart attack.

Frigid temperatures during the holidays can be hard on the heart, especially for those with pre-existing heart conditions. The cold can cause blood vessels to constrict which raises blood pressure. Too much physical exertion such as snow shoveling with high blood pressure, can increase strain on the heart causing a heart attack.

How to stay safe from the cold:

  • Bundle up, layer with warm clothing while outside.
  • Hire someone to shovel the snow for you (often kids in the area would love the extra cash! It’s a win, win situation.)
  • If you are shoveling your own snow, take breaks, don’t over exhaust yourself.

Other factors which can increases risk of heart attacks:

  • smoking
  • hypertension
  • diabetes
  • lack of exercise
  • stress
  • alcohol
  • drugs


  • Learn to relax; manage the stressors in your life through coping techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption as binge drinking is hard on your body.
  • Stay active; 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can significantly decrease your chances of heart attack.
  • Stay warm and out of the cold.

Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack is very important. Researchers believe that it’s possible that the increase in heart attacks this time of year is due to people ignoring the symptoms, as they would rather “wait” until after the holidays to deal with it. Going to the hospital as soon as you have any of the following cardiac symptoms could save your life.

Signs and symptoms that you may be having a heart attack:



Earlier this year the Aim2Walk Team took a CPR and Choking course. Check out this blog to review your lifesaving skills. You never know when you may need to save a life!

Michelle Wolfe

The Aim2walk Experience: A Students Reflection

IMG_6533My name is Caitlin Ivany and I am a 4th year student studying Kinesiology at the University of Guelph-Humber. I am currently trying to find my place in the world, so close to finishing my under-grad degree, slowly making my way up the path towards graduation, and constantly thinking and worrying about the future and where life’s journey will take me. As far as I can remember I have always been interested in the human body and its functions. I love sports and have always been motivated by healthy active living. Throughout my school years, I have always had the aspiration of being able to help others and to try to make a difference in the world. Ever since I experienced my own personal knee injury and was able to experience physiotherapy at hand and in the eyes of a patient, it has been the career choice of mine. I immediately knew that physiotherapy was the path I wanted to follow in life and the future I wanted to pursue. Physiotherapist is the title I want beside my name.

“If you can dream it, you can do it”

Three months, two days a week, seven hours a day, one hundred and fifty four hours total, is the amount of time I was fortunate enough to gain valuable experience, learn and grow as a person during my placement at Aim2walk, Neurological Rehabilitation Center. Aim2walk believes in the true potential, strength and abilities of every patient that walks through the doors to begin their rehabilitation journey. The concept behind Aim2walk is defined directly by its name, to help their patients progress their abilities to take their first step and potentially walk again. However not every patients will walk again, but progress is always possible.

lokoDuring my time at Aim2walk, I received excellent training and supervision. Aim2walk offers a wide variety of therapeutic services, as their team is comprised of Kinesiologists, Physiotherapists, Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists, and Therapists that specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Aim2walk has a specific NeuroProtocol that incorporates robotics and technologies, body work, acupuncture, functional training and overall health and wellness. The NeuroProtocol is an intensive therapy program that is aimed towards the patient specific injury and constraints. The NeuroProtocol is meant to push patients to the best of their abilities and allow for continuous progression throughout the road to recovery.

During my time at Aim2walk I have been able to experience, at hand, all the aspects of the NeuroProtocol. It has truly been the most rewarding and greatest learning experience I have ever encountered within the therapeutic field. The hands on experience that I have been able to gain, has greatly lifted my confidence towards my future endeavors. Each therapist brings their own unique qualities to the Aim2walk team, and thus being the reason as to why it is so successful. Everyone at Aim2walk, both the patients and therapists, is one big family, and I have never met so many kind and inspirational people in my life. Confidence comes with experience, as well as the knowledge and application. Therefore, because I have been able to work with so many intelligent therapists at Aim2walk, I have been able to develop a greater insight into the therapeutic field. I am more confident in my skills, abilities and future ambitions. I greatly encourage any student that is interested in following a career path in rehabilitation, to consider volunteering, or completing a placement at Aim2walk. As a student myself, I have learned and gained so much from my time at Aim2walk and I am truly grateful and thankful for the opportunity.

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible”

This is a quote I read on my very first day of placement that immediately left an impression and hasn’t left my mind since. Every day during my placement at Aim2walk I would read this quote and reflect on life, the future and present. It is a quote that has embedded itself into my every day thoughts with everything that I do. It has become a reference for motivation and a light of inspiration, and I hope this quote can have the same impact for the patients at Aim2walk as it has for me.

Lastly, for those of you that I was fortunate enough to meet, I would like to thank you, for telling me your story, for teaching me, for your patience, and, for allowing me to learn and grow as a person. It is because of individuals like you that I can become one step closer towards my future ambitions. For those of you that I did not meet, I know that if you are a part of the Aim2walk family, whether a therapist or patient, there is no doubt that you would have left the same positive impression on me throughout my placement. Finally, to the remarkable patients at Aim2walk, I want you to believe in your abilities, believe in what you can do and take pride in the progress that you make throughout your rehabilitation journey, as each day is a step further then you were yesterday.

“The struggle you’re in today, is developing the strength you need for tomorrow”

Caitlin Ivany

One Year Review and Aldo’s progress is outstanding!

Today, December 11, 2014 is one year since Aldo’s accident. Doctors told him he would never walk again after his Spinal Cord Injury. He has been coming to Aim2Walk now since March of 2014 and seeing outstanding progress. Aldo has a lot of hard work ahead of him before he can walk without a walking aid however we are so happy with his progress in just one year.

Take a peek at some of his new tricks, walking backwards and walking sideways (while supported on the Lokomat.) Way to go Aldo!