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The risk for a heart attack increases when shoveling snow

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The risk for a heart attack increases when shoveling snow

PEORIA (WEEK) – Monday’s snowstorm left the region with plenty of snow, forcing many residents to pick up their shovels. Shoveling snow is an intense exercise and could send you to the emergency room as it is a known trigger for heart attacks.

When the enough snow has fallen — many emergency rooms gear up for extra cardiac patients. Cold temperatures already increase the risk of a heart attack, but when you factor in snow shoveling, your chances double. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your heart. 

Dr. Austin Lamb with OSF Emergency Medicine department says it is best to take frequent breaks while shoveling, especially if you are at risk for heart problems.

“One recommendation is to use a smaller shovel–that way there’s less weight on the shovel. If you are at higher risk–just don’t even try. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Lamb.

The amount of stress you are putting on your body when shoveling snow is more than you think. Roughly, 7 inches of snow equivalates to approximately 3.6 pounds per feet of snow. Then, factor in the area you are shoveling, it adds up. The average-sized 2-car driveway is roughly 640 square foot. Multiply 3.6-pounds per foot of snow by 640-square foot and you get 2,329.6 pounds! This is approximately 1.16 US TON, and that is the weight of snow needed to be shoveled off of your driveway.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or weakness when shoveling, you should get to the hospital right away. 

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