Snow storm could cause health risks

Posted By: Kelsey Murphy

A typical snow storm routine could have a chilling effect on your health.

Shoveling away piles of snow in the cold weather can put you at risk for a heart attack.

“Your blood pressure starts to really skyrocket in addition to your heart rate, even more than it would if you were on the treadmill doing a light jog,” Dr. Steven Martin, CHI Medical Director, said.

So why in the snow and not at the gym?

Dr. Martin with the Nebraska Heart Institute says people shoveling don’t recognize how hard they are pushing themselves and how long they are doing it.

"It feels good that you are staying warm doing a physical activity, but you are unaware of how high your heart rate and blood pressure is going while you are doing it," Dr. Martin, said.

In addition to physical exertion, the cold air can cause blood vessels to constrict and decrease oxygen to the heart.

The best advice, clear your driveway or side walks by pushing the snow with a snow blower rather than shoveling it.

Dr. Martin says less stress on your arms puts less tension on your heart.

If you are a male over 50, or have prior history of a heart condition, high blood pressure, or cholesterol you should avoid doing the chore yourself.

And, if you are shoveling, Dr. Martin says take breaks and pay attention to how your body feels.

"It’s the temptation to try to get it all done too fast cause its cold."

Officials also recommend using a smaller shovel and taking 15 minute breaks every now and then.

Also, try to avoid shoveling right when you wake up, and don’t eat a big meal before taking on the snow.