Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Protect Your Heart -- Please Read This Before You Shovel Snow!

Anyone with heart disease knows that there are things they should do to protect their heart ... but they may not realize the dangers associated with shoveling snow. Even people who believe their hearts to be healthy should know that there can be significant risks involved with shoveling snow.


I've written about how heart attacks can be precipitated by snow shoveling on this blog before - but I'm doing so yet again today, as I don't believe the dangers associated with snow shoveling can be overemphasized.

Temperatures in Montana this week have risen above freezing for the first time in a while. To avoid having icy walkways and driveways when the slush freezes after the sun goes down, many people here have been out shoveling. In parts of the United States, a big snowstorm is forecast for later in the week. This seems a good time to issue yet another warning.


My previously published article Snowmageddon Storm Warning: Protect your Heart was written from the passionate viewpoint of my first-hand experience with patients who had suffered heart attacks after shoveling snow. During numerous years of working as a cardiac care nurse in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, (where snow is usually wet and very heavy when it falls) I saw far too many patients admitted to the hospital with chest pain after shoveling snow.

Many people do not understand the deadly combination of exertion (often unaccustomed) and blood vessel constriction (a result of cold temperatures) that can occur when shoveling snow. Add in other risk factors, such as being a smoker or the stress of adding the task of shoveling to an already busy schedule; it all could add up to a heart attack just waiting to happen.  Unfortunately, even if warning signs occur, people may not recognize the symptoms of a heart attack or just ignore them because they are focused on completing the task.

So, today I implore you to read (or reread) my article and share this information with people you care about. If it is not snowy where you live right now, I hope you store this information away for when and if you ever need it or have an occasion to pass it on. Even if you are young with no known cardiac history, take note of the tips offered for how to shovel snow more safely and familiarize yourself with the symptoms of a heart attack. If someone you know is elderly or has a cardiac history,  please encourage them to find someone healthy and strong to shovel for them.


To read the article I have mentioned here, either search: "Snowmaggedon Storm Warning: Protect Your Heart!" or just click here.  

What are your thoughts on shoveling snow? 
Do you live in a place where it snows?

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14 comments :

  1. Yes, we live in snow country. The hubs vision is pretty bad so we pay for snow removal but up until a couple of years ago he did all the snow removal himself. I used to keep a close eye on him out there.

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    1. Glad to hear you are now paying someone else to do it for you! There are much better ways for your husband to use his time!

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  2. There isn't much snow here in TN, although we enjoyed our first snow day today. Everything shuts down though cos of icy roads and no one salts and plows. Anyway, this is a great reminder. I never knew that deadly combination of exertion AND constriction due to cold. Makes sense. Thanks for sharing this, Susan! Stay safe!

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    1. Snow in TN - I can picture how that could cause some issues! I hope your weather has returned ot normal Joy!

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  3. A very timely warning. Thankfully, we don't get snow here, but if we did, I'd move somewhere warmer! Or pay for a professional someone to do the shovelling.

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    1. Moving to somewhere warmer does hold some appeal .... !

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  4. No snow in Western Australia but I'd never thought of the heart attack risks from the exertion + the cold. Really interesting Susan.

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    1. GLad you found this interesting Leanne - perhaps you know someone who could use this advice. I was so sad to see a report in the news of several deaths in the eastern USA recently from shoveling.

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  5. Such a good reminder Susan. I can only remember one time where we actually needed to shovel snow off our driveway - and we made the kids do it :)!

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    1. My son does most of it lately - but I still seem to shovel my share!

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  6. I was just telling my husband that today. He wasn't hard to convincing. My worry was more about the bronchitis he is just getting over. He's been home a week and if it turns into pneumonia have mercy on me haha! He's worse than the kids!

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    1. Oh no, Rena ... I hope he is feeling better!

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  7. Great information! I had heard about this on the news this past week, I guess with all of the crazy snow the northeast part of the country got not too long ago. I think, in general, men underestimate how badly out of shape they are and tend to overdo it, without realizing until it is too late.

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    1. Yes - but not just men. Heart disease is a number one killer of women also.

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