How Shoveling Snow Can Affect Your Heart
The Winter Season is now upon us. It’s about that time to cozy up indoors, but the snow needs to be cleared right? However, you might not be the one to do so.
What is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack or in medical terms a myocardial infarction occurs when a coronary artery is blocked suddenly or has extremely slowed blood flow. Whether it’s caused by a blood clot or plaque buildup, it doesn’t change how deadly this sudden condition can be. A myocardial infarction is a leading cause of morbidity and death. When the artery becomes blocked the flow of blood through it is diminished dramatically, this causes a malfunction in the way the heart operates normally. The blockage is usually a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances. The blood flow that is interrupted can possibly damage or destroy part of the heart muscle.
Shoveling and Heart Attacks?
Many don’t know that a task much of us are familiar with and do annually could trigger a heart attack. During this cold and snowy season you should know whether you’re at risk. High risk individuals may include:
- •Having a history of heart attacks and/or heart disease.
- •Having high blood pressure or cholesterol.
- •Those who smoke.
- •Those who live a sedentary lifestyle.
It is important to note many are still at risk of a heart attack in spite of not having cardiovascular risk factors including having high blood pressure and smoking.
Why Does Shoveling Snow Increase the Risk?
Majority of those who shovel the snow with the conditions listed above, are typically not accustomed to the physical labor intensity that shoveling entails. Moving pounds of snow from place to place in cold air forces the heart to work harder. People over the age of 40 and/or are inactive should be particularly careful.
Cold Air and Your Heart.
When preforming tasks like; shoveling snow, pushing a snow blower, or carrying a bag during the winter season the heart must work harder to distribute oxygen putting you at risk for heart attack.
Here are a few helpful tips before you shovel to protect your heart this winter season
- •Contact your doctor to find out whether you’re cleared to shovel snow.
- •Don’t smoke or drink caffeine for at least one hour before shoveling: Stimulants like these will raise your blood pressure and increase your heart rate.
- •Wait a while to shovel after waking up in the morning: In the early hours of the day blood is more prone to clotting.
- •Shovel before you sit down and eat your breakfast: An empty stomach requires less blood flow which means more for your heart!
- •Warm yourself up before heading outside: Warming up like stretching will promote healthier blood flow and prevent clotting.
More tips for while you’re shoveling to prevent a heart attack
- •Grab a smaller shovel instead of a big one: This will reduce the weight of each load and the strain it puts on your body.
- •Take breaks: Taking frequent 15-minute breaks will allow your body time to rest before you jump back into shoveling.
- •Stay hydrated: Keep your self-hydrated by drinking water frequently, not just while you shovel but throughout your day!
- •Dress for the occasion: Thick warm layers are needed to avoid hypothermia making sure to cover your head, neck and mouth.
- •Be aware: Watch out for signs of heart attack including; dizziness, shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, arms or back.
In the case that shoveling snow has caused you to feel the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, it’s important to get medical attention immediately.
If you believe that you are suffering from a heart attack call 911.
What Can You Do If You See Someone Suffering from Cardiac Arrest?
According to the American Heart Association, bystanders can help those who are in cardiac arrest. First thing to do is call 911 then administer hands only CPR right away. If an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is available use it as soon as possible.
Shoveling snow shouldn’t mean the end of your life. If you are potentially at risk of heart attack, take the necessary precautions before, during, and after shoveling to protect yourself. There is also an option to have someone else clear your driveway. Remember that signs and symptoms of heart attacks and if you believe you are suffering from a heart attack call 911 and get medical attention. Having a cleared driveway should not mean the end of your life.
If you or someone you know has suffered from a heart attack, remember that home health services are an option for the road to recovery. Abcor Home Health is a Licensed Home Health and Community Support agency. Our services include short- and long-term home health care. Care is provided by licensed professionals in nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and social work therapy. All treatment that is provided is under our staff and established by the client’s physicians. For more information visit Home Health Services page under the Services tab or call (847)670-8268.