Snow shoveling should be done with care, caution

Old man winter has done a lot more than simply visiting sub-zero temperatures on the area in the past week. According to local officials, as much as a foot of snow, pushed by gusting winds, has piled up, especially in the outlying areas, snow that has to be relocated from drive and walkways.

That means, for the people who don’t have snowblowers or access to strong-backed support, shoveling. And in some cases, a great deal of shoveling.

The American Heart Association notes that for most people, shoveling snow may not lead to health problems. However, the risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling increases for others.

Among the reasons heart attacks can occur during snow shoveling is the combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion which increases the workload on the heart. As a result, too much strain on the heart during these conditions can cause a heart attack.

To help make snow removal safer, consider the following tips.

≤ Consult a doctor. If you have a medical condition or don’t exercise on a regular basis, schedule a meeting with your doctor prior to the first anticipated snowfall.

≤ Take frequent breaks during shoveling so you don’t overstress your heart.

≤ Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling since it can place an extra load on your heart.

≤ Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.

≤ Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. Wear a hat and dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation.

≤ Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower. Lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure acutely. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times, than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.

≤ Listen to your body. If you feel the warning signs for heart attack, stop what you’re doing immediately and call 9-1-1.

For more information, call the American Heart Association visit www.americanheart.org.