Heart Smart Shoveling Tips
With over a foot of snow expected to fall on the SouthCoast this weekend, the American Heart Association wants to remind you to shovel safely.
Snow shoveling may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke for some people, so it is important to not overdo it.
Heart attacks can start mildly and may be mistaken for simple exhaustion.
"The key signs of a potential heart attack are chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, nausea or lightheadedness," according to the AHA website.
Here are some tips provided by the AHA to take into consideration while you clear off those driveways and sidewalks:
- Give yourself a break. Take frequent breaks to avoid overstressing your heart. Pay attention to how your body feels during those breaks.
- Don’t eat a big meal before or soon after shoveling. Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
- Use a small shovel or a snow thrower. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts. When possible, simply push the snow.
- Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Carry your cellphone in your pocket and call 911 immediately if you experience any signs of a heart attack.
- Do not drink alcohol before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol can increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause you to underestimate the extra strain your body is under in the cold.
- Consult a doctor ahead of time. Before you start shoveling, talk with your doctor if you have a medical condition, do not exercise regularly or are middle-aged or older.
- Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of the body’s heat can be lost through the head.
Use some common sense while you're out there this weekend and be sure to take your time.