Know Your Snow

Author: Liz Kovac

Studies have shown that men, more than women, are at significant risk of experiencing a heart attack during or after shoveling snow. "The combination of cold weather and sudden and intense cardio can trigger a heart attack," said Dr. James Sutton, Emergency Room Medical Director of McLaren Lapeer Region. "The heart can't go from supporting a sedentary lifestyle to supporting rigorous activity in extreme conditions. This is why heart attacks often occur during or after snow shoveling."

Snow Shoveling Tips

Know your snow: It is important to take the type of snow you'll be shoveling into consideration. Wet snow is much heavier than the light, fluffy flakes. If the snow is heavier, take it slower and work in layers.

Work in layers: Pace yourself. If the snow is deep and wet, cut into it with your shovel, taking away layers at a time. This is easier than scooping directly from the ground and lifting excessively.

Pay attention to how you feel: Monitor how you feel before, during, and after shoveling.


  • Tightness in your chest, lasting more than a few minutes
  • Neck, jaw, back, or stomach pain
  • Arm or shoulder pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, breaking into cold sweat


  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Unexplained excessive fatigue
  • Discomfort similar to muscle strain in the upper abdomen, back, or jaw
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath

If you ever experience heart attack symptoms, dial 911 or head to the emergency room.

It is important to be proactive regarding your heart health. Heart conditions can be detected early at your annual physical. If you are in need of a physician referral for a primary care provider, call (810) 667-5714.