American Heart Association warns of snow shoveling health hazards
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The American Heart Association warns the risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling may increase for some, as the combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart.
For those who are sedentary or people with existing heart conditions like heart failure, high blood pressure or cholesterol, the increased workload on the heart from activities such as shoveling of heavy snow can put them at higher risk for heart attack.
To help make snow removal safer, the American Heart Association has some simple tips:
· Take frequent rest breaks during shoveling so you don’t overstress your heart.
· Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling. Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
· Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure acutely during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.
· Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out with a doctor. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1.
· Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.
· Consult a doctor. If you have a medical condition, don’t exercise on a regular basis, or are middle-aged or older, meet with your doctor prior to the first anticipated snowfall.
· Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of your body’s heat can be lost through your head.
For more information and tips from the American Heart Association, click here.
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