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The Hidden Dangers of Shoveling Snow

Shoveling snow may not seem like a dangerous activity, but surprisingly enough, it can be deadly.

Cardiologists agree that individuals who have certain conditions may be putting themselves at an increased risk for a heart attack by shoveling snow during the winter months.

Why Does this Happen?

Colder temperatures increase the risk of blood clotting due to the narrowing of blood vessels which allows less oxygen to travel to the heart. This is especially problematic when paired with the rise in blood pressure and the physical strain to the body that happens during shoveling.


Who Has the Highest Risk?

Individuals who fit any of the following criteria may be at high risk for triggering a heart attack:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • History of heart attacks
  • History of heart disease
  • Heart stent
  • Bypass surgery
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol

If you qualify for any of these factors, please talk to your doctor before shoveling snow. Based on your doctor’s recommendations, consider asking a friend, relative, or neighbor to shovel for you. 

You can also hire a shoveling service to take care of it for you – then you won’t have to think about it again all winter!


How Can I Protect My Heart During Shoveling?

If you do fit the above criteria and still choose to shovel, be aware of some of the following tips that might help reduce the stress to your heart. 

Before you Begin Shoveling:

  • Discuss the activity with your doctor and determine if it is safe for you to shovel
  • Blood clots occur most often in the morning, therefore wait a few hours after you wake up before you begin shoveling
  • Avoid large meals before beginning to shovel as some blood will move toward the stomach
  • Walk briefly to warm up your muscles before beginning shoveling
  • Avoid drinking coffee or smoking for one hour before and after shoveling as these substances tend to increase heart rate and blood pressure

During Snow Shoveling:

  • Choose a smaller shovel that will lighten the load of the snow and space out the strain on your body
  • Shovel slowly – don’t rush yourself and overexert your body
  • Take frequent 15 minute breaks to give your heart rate time to slow down
  • Drink extra water so that your body does not dehydrate
  • Wear layers so that your body does not get too cold or warm and to avoid hypothermia and overheating
  • Wear a hat and scarf to maintain body heat where it is most easily lost
  • Cover your mouth with your scarf to avoid breathing problems related to breathing cold air
  • If you exhibit any warning signs of a heart attack (including lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, or tight pains in your chest, neck, arms or back) stop shoveling immediately and rest. If you believe you are having a heart attack, call 911.

Let Us Take Care of it For You

Don’t put yourself at risk; contact us to do your snow removal for you. We visit your home each time there is a snowfall of 1 inch or more, so you don’t have to worry about scheduling an appointment. We also use snow blowers instead of plows, so our services won’t ruin your lawn!

Visit our website to contact us or receive a free quote.