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Snow Shoveling? Get Someone Else to Do It

White Plains Hospital

November 23, 2022

Snow Shoveling? Get Someone Else to Do It

Low temperatures, high wind and less sunshine are not heart-friendly.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between cold weather and cardiac arrest, with heart attacks occurring more frequently when the temperatures fall, the wind rises, and there is less sunshine.

Why can lower temperatures increase the risk of a heart attack? Cold makes the arteries constrict, which may not be a problem for someone who is healthy -- but for someone who has 70 to 80 percent of their arteries blocked, it could significantly increase the danger. Also, lower temperatures increase the blood’s ability to clot.

If you add activity that may increase blood pressure -- like shoveling snow and following it with a cup of hot, caffeinated coffee to warm up afterward -- you could really be asking for trouble.

We always advise our cardiac patients and those with heart disease not to shovel, and to let someone else (younger and healthier) do the job. Those neighborhood teenagers can earn some extra cash shoveling your walkway and driveway and clearing off your car.

Unfortunately, we have seen the scenario of heart attack and cardiac arrest while shoveling happen all too often in the wintertime. If you are someone with risk factors for heart attack, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of smoking, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease, or you personally have already been diagnosed with heart disease, you are strongly advised to have someone else shovel your driveway.

And don't forget: to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, make sure you first clear any snow away from the tailpipe of your car before turning it on and getting in.

Prevention is the best key year-round for good cardiac health.

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