The link between heart attacks and shoveling snow is, sadly, not a myth. It is very real and very tragic. According to Harvard Health Publishing, previous estimates in the U.S. state that approximately 100 individuals, mostly men, pass away right after or during shoveling snow every year.
In addition, more come to seek emergency care due to chest pains or other issues with their heart. That being said, experts recommend that individuals with a high risk of developing heart issues or those diagnosed with a heart problem, refrain from snow shoveling at all.
If you are generally healthy, however, you can follow the tips below to ensure your heart’s safety when shoveling snow.
1. Warm up first.
Before working out, people usually warm up first, but this isn’t the case when it comes to snow shoveling. They just head out and start shoveling like crazy since they’re looking to wrap up the task as soon as possible, and by doing so put significant stress on their heart.
With this in mind, warm up as you would before a typical workout session and make sure to stretch properly to prevent injury. It’s also vital to note that you should also arm up even if you’re going to be using a snow blower because running behind the blower is also a strenuous task.
2. Dress for the weather.
Prior to heading out to face the cold, dress warmly in layers and top off with one of your handy Obermeyers men’s jackets. Make sure to cover your entire body, including your face and ears. Among the primary reasons that make snow shoveling potentially hazardous is the cold pressor response.
Basically, it’s when the blood vessels constrict, and it is the natural reaction of the body when it feels that it is freezing. The main issue with shoveling is that the body might think that it is freezing even while you’re dressed appropriately since some parts of your body might be exposed to the cold. So make sure to wear earmuffs, a hat, gloves, goggles, and a face mask.
3. Take sufficient breaks.
Go inside your house, hydrate yourself, and warm up during your breaks. Aside from stressing your heart, being dehydrated might likewise increase your risk of developing irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia. Refrain from drinking alcohol because it might further dehydrate you and raise your blood pressure.
4. Make sure your form is correct.
Empty your shovel in the direction you are facing and avoid twisting to prevent developing back problems.
5. Use the proper tools.
Curved shovels will be easier on your back. Consider spraying it with some oil to make snow slide off easier.
Remember that you are putting additional stress on your heart and that constriction of blood vessels is a given when shoveling snow, which in turn will make your heart work harder than normal and put yourself at risk of developing heart issues or having a heart attack. Put simply, if you have some kind of heart issue or have already survived a heart attack, it’s best that you ask someone else to shovel snow for you.