Yes, You Can Really Have a Heart Attack From Shoveling Snow.

You may have heard of people, in particular older people, who have had a heart attack from shoveling snow. But what’s so dangerous about digging? And is everyone in danger, or is it quite rare? Here’s what you should know.

Snow removal is hard work

The connection between spade and heart events is real. The American Heart Association cites several studies that have found higher rates of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death after snowstorms. Shoveling is hard work and can cause your blood pressure and heart rate to rise well above levels considered safe for sedentary people with heart disease. Cold temperatures also make you more likely to experience chest pain, possibly because your arteries can constrict in the cold.

Who should consult a doctor before digging with a shovel?

You may have heard the advice to consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. We have more information on this here : Most people don’t need to see a doctor, but it depends on your medical history and whether you’re going to be doing intense exercise.

Since shoveling snow is an intense exercise, it’s worth checking out these guidelines. If you have heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease and are not currently exercising vigorously, you should check with your doctor before starting. This is true whether you’re looking for an intense exercise jog, a CrossFit workout, or shoveling six inches of snow from a huge driveway.

Pushing a snow blower also counts.

One surprising thing: the warnings about snow removal also apply to using a snow blower. Blowing snow turns out to be a serious exercise, too , even if it’s supposed to be easier because the machine does some of the work.

How to reduce the risk of a heart attack

In a press release from the American Heart Association, the cardiologist who was lead author of the article on the risks of exercise recommends that people who have had bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty, or who have already had a heart attack or stroke, not do so. own digging. It also includes current and former smokers, people with diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sedentary people.

If you are healthy enough to be safe enough to shovel snow, you can still take some precautions to make shoveling easier. While driving a snow blower is hard, it is still easier than shoveling. And if you need a shovel, pushing the shovel is easier on your body than lifting it repeatedly.

I would add that shoveling several times during one snowstorm is a game changer. Instead of waiting for six inches of snow to fall on the ground, go outside when it’s only two inches and it will be easy. Repeat this process two more times and you’ll have a clean road and never have to struggle through ankle-deep snow.

Finally, pay attention to how your body feels when you dig with a shovel and stop if you don’t feel good. Or, as the AHA put it:

if you experience pain or pressure in your chest, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat or irregular heart rate, stop exercising immediately. Call 9-1-1 if symptoms do not resolve soon after snow removal.

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