During the winter months, snow and ice are very likely and can sometimes hinder our daily plans.  When a wintery mix is on its way, it is important to be properly prepared.  If you are planning on shoveling snow this winter, keep in mind that your fingers and toes aren’t the only body parts affected.

Colder temperatures combined with physical activity create specific circumstances that increase the risk of a heart attack.  If not prepared, even walking through snow can put unwanted strain on your heart.

There are many ways to make snow removal safer:  Take breaks while shoveling and pay attention to how your body feels during your breaks.   Treat shoveling like somewhat of a workout, and avoid eating a large meal prior to shoveling (a small snack is ok).  Use a smaller shovel to avoid lifting heavy amounts of snow and push the snow out of the way instead of lifting it.  Dress warmly to avoid hypothermia and drink plenty of water!  Lastly, know the warning signs of a heart attack and what action to take if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms.

Did You Know?

  •  Every 1.8 degree decrease in outside temperature is associated with 200 additional heart attacks.
  • Cold temperatures increase blood pressure and protein levels, which also increase heart attack risk.
  • 50% more heart attacks occur during the winter months than in the summer months.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

  1. Chest Discomfort: pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest
  2. Upper body discomfort: discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Other signs: these may include cold sweats, nausea, and lightheadedness

For more information, visit: American Heart Association.

Sources:  The American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.