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Heart Attack Risks From Shoveling Snow

Cold temperatures and the physical exertion of shoveling snow can be a dangerous combination for anyone, but it can turn deadly if you’re over the age of 45 and have cardiovascular risk factors.

How Can Shoveling Cause a Heart Attack?

Being outside in cold winter temperatures can constrict arteries and raise blood pressure. Combine that with the physical strain of shoveling snow, which also raises blood pressure and heart rate, and it’s the perfect storm for a heart attack, according to the AARP.

To decrease the chances of a heart-related incident while shoveling, follow these tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Avoid shoveling after eating.
  • Don’t smoke while shoveling.
  • Do a few stretches before you start and remember to take it slow.
  • Only shovel fresh, powdery snow.
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it.
  • When lifting the snow, do not overload the shovel.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Feeling tired? Take a break or stop completely.
  • If you have the option, use a snowblower.

Signs of a Heart Attack

Chest discomfort or pressure, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or nausea, discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach are all signs of a heart attack. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.