How to shovel snow safely this season

How to shovel snow safely this season

It’s the time of year when any morning you may wake up to find the ground covered with snow, and this just might be the case for millions in the Midwest who are expecting their first snowfall of the season Saturday.

Whenever it happens, for many men it usually means getting out the shovel – and that can bring about some heart problems.

Most men will shovel their driveways and sidewalks without incident. But, they may not exercise regularly or have been tested to see if they have an increased cardiovascular risk. The act of shoveling snow places a significant strain on the heart, which can result in a heart attack, an arrhythmia or even sudden death.

Shoveling snow is an intense anaerobic activity that raises the blood pressure and heart rate to potentially unsafe levels. When combined with extremely cold temperatures, the risk for a massive heart attack increases.

It’s essential that everyone follow these shoveling snow tips from American Heart Association:

  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal prior to or soon after shoveling.
  • Use a small shovel or consider a snow blower. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.
  • Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling.
  • Stay warm, stay covered.
  • Have a shoveling buddy – it will make the job easier for both of you.

If a person must shovel snow, be sure to know the warning signs of a heart attack. It could be lifesaving. The most common heart attack symptom for men is chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or it may go away and then come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Another symptom is shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort. Other signs may include sweating, nausea, light-headedness or indigestion. The list above does not cover all symptoms people have during a heart attack.

People should call 911 and seek medical attention immediately if they are having any of these symptoms.

This story featured was a part of a special edition of health enews focused towards men’s health topics. To learn more about men’s health and Advocate’s mission to help make health a priority for the important men in our lives, please visit ManUpAtAdvocate.com. On the site, men can also make same-day appointments, find helpful tips and screening information and also find a doctor.

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Comments

5 Comments

  1. Funny, at my house I shovel the snow because I KNOW my husband has heart problems and yet, no mention of women or advise to them….

    • health enews Staff November 24, 2015 at 11:47 am · Reply

      Hi Peggy,

      Thank you for commenting on our story about shoveling snow safely this season. The stories for that day were part of a special feature that was intended to raise awareness about men’s health issues as part of our Man Up! for Men’s Health campaign. We apologize as this should have been more clearly outlined in the story since heart disease affects both men and women. If you’d like to learn more about heart disease in women, feel free to pick from a variety of stories in our archive: http://www.ahchealthenews.com/?s=heart+disease+women&x=0&y=0

      We appreciate you taking the time to read our stories and provide feedback.

      health enews Staff

  2. Great suggestions. In addition, using a push shovel can also reduce cardio load, have the back and make shoveling snow much easier.
    There are several types and sizes of push shovels. One that just plows it.. Bu the one I prefer catches a huge amount of snow and slides along the surface moving the snw wherever you want it to go without having to pick it up except to raise the handle and dump it.
    I do the drive in half the time, half the effort and almost no risk to back or heart.
    It’s a whole different thing but you will,develop your own method.
    These are sometimes called you per scoopers or Youpper scoupper because they were inventented in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. Try Menards.

  3. Do women not also get heart attacks, or heart arrhythmia? Do women not also shovel snow? My female coworkers and I were just discussing all the shoveling we’re going to have to do tomorrow morning. I’m no doctor, but I can’t imagine that only men can get heart attacks because of cardiovascular stress. This article should also bring attention to women’s risk of heart complications, especially because women’s heart attack symptoms are less discussed and less well known.

    • health enew Staff November 24, 2015 at 11:37 am · Reply

      Hi Tessa,

      Thank you for taking a vested interest in our article about shoveling snow safely this season. The stories for that day were part of a special feature that was intended to raise awareness about men’s health issues as part of our Man Up! for Men’s Health campaign. We understand that shoveling snow and heart disease isn’t a gender specific task and will take that into account in the future.

      We value your opinion and appreciate you taking the time to read our stories and provide feedback.

      Sincerely,

      health enews Staff

About the Author

Dr. Siddharth Gandhi
Dr. Siddharth Gandhi

Dr. Siddharth Gandhi is an interventional cardiologist with Advocate Heart Institute. He sees patients at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., and Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Ill.