Shoveling snow can increase your risk of a heart attack. The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart.
To help make snow removal safer, The American Heart Association recommends using a smaller shovel. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure fast. It is safer to lift small amounts more times than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. Also, don’t eat a heavy meal before or after shoveling. Eating large meals can put an extra load on your heart.
The American Heart Association said the most important thing is to remember to listen to your body and take breaks.
“We say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your driveway doesn’t have to be cleared in five minutes. Give yourself time to do so because especially if it is a heavy wet snow,” said Kevin Pauley, the Communications Director for the American Heart Association. “That really does add up and you really don’t expect how heavy that is until you really dig in and you are working so hard to flip that over.”
The association also recommends not drinking alcohol before or immediately after being out in the cold. Alcohol may increase your sensation of warmth and can cause you to underestimate the extra strain your body is under in the cold.
If you do see someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest, the first thing you should do is call 9-1-1. After that, start CPR right away. This can just be chest compressions. You want to push hard and fast in the center of the chest and try to get one hundred beats per minute. Starting chest compressions right away can help save someone’s life.
“Performing CPR really does make a difference. We know that for every minute that you are not getting help from CPR. If you drop from cardiac arrest, your chances of recovering, your chances of being brought back decrease about ten percent per minute,” says Pauley.
If there is someone else around to help with compressions, The American Heart Association recommends switching off to give yourself a break.