Snow Shoveling Heart Safety

Heart Safety in Snow Season
Winter can be a great time of year, but it has it’s own special dangers. If you live in a region that receives snow during the winter season, you are probably familiar with the task of snow shoveling.  However, you may not know that snow shoveling can increase your risk of heart attack.  The American Heart Association warns that snow shoveling may increase the risk of heart attack for some people [1].  Why is that, and what simple things can you do to decrease that risk?
Snow shoveling, physical exertion, and stress on the heart have been correlated with heart attacks experienced after snow storms [2].  Dr. Eric Van De Graaff (an Alegent Creighton Physician who specializes in cardiology) notes 5 triggers for heart attacks: “a lot of exertion”,”morningtime”,”intense emotions”,”big meals”, “dirty air and traffic snarls” [3].
Fortunately The American Heart Association provides some simple tips that can help you reduce your risk while shoveling snow [1]:
– Give yourself a break.
– Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling.
– Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower.
– Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body
– Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling.
– Consult a doctor. If you have a medical condition
– Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia.
The Health and Safety Institute (a major provider of emergency response education) recommends to keep an eye out for the signs of a heart attack: lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back [4].  And most importantly, if you think you are having a heart attack call 911; quick access to advanced medical care is critical for someone suffering a heart attack.
Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!