At least three deaths blamed on winter storm, all were shoveling

(WXYZ) - The heavy snow and frigid temperatures are making things dangerous in Metro Detroit.

At least three deaths in Oakland County are being blamed on the nasty weather.

We're told it was two men, and one woman, all in their fifties. All three collapsed while shoveling snow.

If you'll be picking up a shovel over the next few days, make sure you know the health risks before you begin clearing the snow.

Doctors recommend people with pre-existing heart conditions stay away from shoveling.

Even people with healthy hearts should try to stay in shape in the early winter months, so they're ready for the physical activity of shoveling when it does snow.

Dressing warmly can also help reduce health risks; that way your body doesn't spend extra energy trying to keep itself warm.

Experts say, if you notice you're getting out of breath, slow your pace or take a break.

According to a 2011 study from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and Ohio State University College of Medicine, two thirds of people who were treated in the emergency room after shoveling were men.

The study also found slip-and-fall injuries were the most common cause of emergency room visits, but heart-related problems caused the most deaths.

Doctors say, when it's bitterly cold outside, blood vessels constrict and can cause already-narrowed arteries to close even more. Combine that with the extra strain that lifting snow can place on your heart, and you could have a recipe for disaster.

Dr. Shukri David, Chief of Cardiology at St. John Providence Health System, also recommends using a smaller, lighter shovel.

"If you've got a two-lane driveway, you're moving between 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of snow from one area to the other," Dr. David said.

He went on to say shoveling continuously for 15 minutes should be considered the same as running to the point of exhaustion.

If you are interested in learning more about how to help the homeless in Detroit, please visit the youth and street ministry that "Brother" Kyle Joe Hicks runs at: http://www.brotherjoesyouthandstreetministry.com/

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