Take the cold weather, throw in underlying heart disease and add shoveling on top of it and you could have a deadly combination. We talk to a cardiologist with North Central Heart about avoiding a heart attack during this cold snap.
Dr. Tarek Mahrous, Cardiologist at North Central Heart says, "Shoveling puts stress on your body and stress on your heart. It's cold out and so cold weather in itself places a higher stress on your heart, your blood vessels constrict and makes the heart have to work harder. There is some data to suggest the cold weather may make it more likely to not let your arteries open up as well as they should.
You should never eat a heavy meal before or shortly after shoveling because it adds an extra load to your heart. A heart that is already working harder in the cold.
Dr. Mahrous says, "It's important to pay attention to symptoms and to know you are at a higher risk during the cold weather with increased physical exertion.
Dr. Mahrous says the symptoms of a heart attack are chest pressure (a tightness, squeezing feeling), shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and lightheadedness. Call 911 immediately if you feel like that, especially if it happens while you are out shoveling.
Dr. Mahrous says, "Really it's all about common sense. Don't push yourself beyond more than what you normally could and pay attention to your symptoms."
Clearing out your driveway isn't worth dying over. Take it easy, take breaks, and take notice if you aren't feeling right and call for help.
The American Heart Association suggests using a small shovel because it's safer to lift smaller amounts more times.They also warn about drinking alcohol before or immediately after shoveling. It may increase your sensation of warmth causing you to underestimate the strain on your body.