Tips to Avoid a Heart Emergency While Shoveling Snow

Take It Easy When Removing Snow to Avoid the ER This Winter

Author: Jasmine Brown

Man Shoveling Snow

"The heart can't go from supporting a sedentary lifestyle to supporting rigorous activity in extreme conditions."

It is unavoidable – the snow is here. What can be avoided is having a heart attack while trying to remove snow from driveways and sidewalks. 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 Raymond Rudoni, MD, emergency room medical director at McLaren Flint and McLaren Fenton. "The heart can't go from supporting a sedentary lifestyle to supporting rigorous activity in extreme conditions. Therefore, 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 will 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.

Major Heart Attack Symptoms

  • 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

Heart Attack Warning Signs

  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Unexplained excessive fatigue
  • Discomfort like 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 need a primary care provider, click here to find a McLaren Flint provider accepting new patients within two to four weeks, or less.