Snow shoveling can increase heart attack risk in some

This activity can be dangerous and deadly if you are not prepared.
This activity can be dangerous and deadly if you are not prepared.(wkyt)
Published: Jan. 30, 2022 at 10:29 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WAVE/WKYT) - As enjoyable and captivating as winter weather and fallen snow can be, reality sets in when it comes time to shovel it out of the driveway.

With winter weather on the horizon, it is important to know how to stay out of the hospital, as hundreds of heart attacks are reported each year from snow shoveling.

“To shovel snow, it’s kind of like running on a treadmill,” Lexington family practice physician Dr. Jeffery Foxx said. “You are exerting yourself and in addition to the exertion, just the activity of picking up the snow, the weather is a little colder so your blood pressure tends to go up. Your blood vessels tend to constrict.”

People who are at an increased risk for heart attacks from show shoveling include those over 45, are overweight, have a history of heart disease in addition to other factors.

“All of those things can affect your vascular system and your heart, so you ought to think twice about ‘okay is this a risk I am willing to take?’,” Foxx said.

Foxx advised that it is essential to stay hydrated, wearing warm, but not constrictive clothing and to take plenty of breaks.

“Just like you do any activity, you want to pace yourself, do what is necessary, maybe do it in increments,” Foxx said. “Small things at a time.”

If it becomes too much, and someone starts to experience distress while shoveling, make sure to go back to a warm place and monitor symptoms.

“Now if they don’t go away, they persist, that you become more, the chest pain persists, you get short of breath, and you’re getting worse instead of better, well than that’s a 911 call,” Foxx said.

If possible, the best situation is to wait until the snow melt away completely.

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