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February 14 2022 12:00 am

American Heart Association warns of increased cardiac risk while shoveling snow


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—According to the American Heart Association, many people may face an increased risk of a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest while shoveling heavy snow. If someone isn’t used to doing strenuous activity, going outside and shoveling a big driveway or long stretch of sidewalk could be deadly. That is why it could be a good idea to plan ahead. 

Shoveling snow is a task many people don’t enjoy. But sometimes mother nature leaves no alternative.
Alexandria Fierbaugh, of South Charleston, was clearing her sidewalk to make life easier for her mailman. “It is not too bad,” she said. “I don’t have a huge area to shovel but it would be better if it wasn’t so cold.”

According to the American Heart Association shoveling heavy snow can put you at risk.

“A lot of people don’t think about the fact that that really is putting a lot of exertion on your heart,” said Kevin Pauley with the American Heart Association. 

 Fierbaugh said she stays safe by pacing herself.

“I try to take a break if I’m any more than a half-hour out here,” she said. “I warm up, take a rest, get something to drink, and then come back once I’m warm again.”

Pauley said it is a good idea to follow her lead and not get in a rush. 

“You don’t have to clear your entire driveway in five minutes,” Pauley said. “Give yourself the time that you need to get out there and get it done.” He said people should monitor their heart rate and listen to their bodies while also looking for ways to make the job less strenuous. 

“If you have a smaller shovel maybe go with that. Because you are going to be less likely to put a heaping amount of snow on the shovel and move it. That again is extra exertion. But if you do smaller amounts you’d think it would take longer. But you’d actually be surprised how much quicker it can go,” Pauley said. 

Another tip from the American Heart Association is to take time to know the warning signs of a heart attack. And don’t try to drive yourself to the hospital. Instead, call an ambulance.

You can read more about cold weather and heart health here.

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