Heart attack risks can increase while snow shoveling. Here's how you can shovel safely

Blizzard buries east coast landmarks under bed of snow
Posted at 10:16 AM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 10:21:51-05

(WXYZ) — Ahead of the big snow storm set to hit metro Detroit, the American Heart Association is warning that the risk of a heart attack can increase during snow shoveling.

The AHA says heart attack risk increases for those who are middle-aged or older, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle and people who have been diagnosed with a heart condition. The AHA offers these extra precautions:

  • Consult a doctor
  • Give yourself a break so you don't overstress your heart
  • Don't eat a heavy meal before shoveling, as it can put an extra load on your heart
  • Don't drink alcoholic beverages before shoveling because it can increase a person's sensationof warmth and cause them to underestimate the cold
  • Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing and wear a hat.
  • Use a small shovel, the act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times.
  • Listen to your body: If you feel the warning signs for heart attack, stop what you're doing and call 911.

The AHA says researchers have found that the heart rate and blood pressure responses to shoveling heavy, wet snow often met and exceeded the same responses during maximum exercise testing.