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Don't kill yourself for a beautiful driveway

Tuesday, February 11, 2014   by: Staff



Remember your heart when shovelling snow

By Katelyn Brouse, Laurentian University Nursing Student Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. Sudbury (OHCOW)

Most Northern Ontarians know how awful it is to wake up in the morning and find that it has snowed several inches throughout the night.

It’s a responsibility that we’ve gotten accustomed to.

But when we’re shoveling snow, the risk of a heart attack isn’t at the forefront of our minds when we’re in a hurry to clear the driveway.

The truth is that shoveling snow is extremely strenuous on the body.

Without taking proper precautions before shoveling snow, the risk of heart attack increases.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 9 in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

These risk factors include: smoking, alcohol consumption, decreased physical activity, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Individuals who are older, have high blood pressure, have a family history of heart disease, smoke or live a sedentary lifestyle are at highest risk for injury or having a heart attack while shoveling snow.

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot or a plaque and it results in damage and death to the cardiac muscle.

Cold weather and strenuous exercise have been associated with the blood becoming thicker, which increases the chance of a blood clot forming.

Therefore, shoveling snow can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t take the proper precautions.

Before shoveling, try to avoid caffeine and nicotine. Both of these substances are stimulants that put extra stress on the heart.

They also narrow the blood vessels, which decreases blood flow everywhere in the body.

Try to drink plenty of water before and during shoveling, to decrease the chance of dehydration.

Warm up for 5-10 minutes to increase blood circulation and to loosen up joints and muscles.

Try going up and down the stairs a few times, jogging on the spot or going for a walk around the block.

After warming up, perform some gentle body stretches to make sure that your body is ready to exercise.

Once you start, try to take breaks every 15 minutes or so to give your body a break.

If you feel like you might be at risk for a heart attack while shoveling snow, consult your doctor.

It might also be helpful to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack.

Symptoms include: pain or uncomfortable pressure in the chest that lasts longer than a few minutes, pain or discomfort in the jaw and one or both arms, back pain, shortness of breath with or without chest pain, cold sweats, nausea and lightheadedness.

Some heart attacks happen quickly, or some happen gradually with mild pain and discomfort.

At any sign of a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

Shoveling snow can be a great form of physical activity when the proper precautions are taken.

Take care of your body and have a safe and healthy winter.


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Gurpy 2/11/2014 8:31:05 PM Report

Great information! One little problem, should`ve been reading this in November not in Feb.
scottstewy123 2/11/2014 9:27:00 PM Report

That's why snow blowers were invented.
HowAbooutSomeLogic 2/11/2014 9:42:42 PM Report

Yeah, great information, except for this gem

"Cold weather and strenuous exercise have been associated with the blood becoming thicker"

I'm pretty sure your blood is NOT like engine oil and doesn't turn to molasses when it gets cold outside. I think it's called 'homeostasis' but basically there is a very narrow temperature range at which the body operates and unless you are literally freezing to death your blood will not thicken due to the cold. Maybe in reptiles...that makes sense, being 'cold blooded' and all.

If it's super hot outside and you're dehydrated from sweating that is when you'd expect blood to thicken...

...but if you could reference your 'association' I'd love to eat my words.
bigG47 2/11/2014 11:16:16 PM Report

Its not the few inches of fluffy snow that concerns me, its the 2 feet of icy chunks that the snow plows leaves at the end of my drive that bugs me. A brand new $1200.00 Sears snow blower can't touch it ! Not so happy !!
Beej 2/11/2014 11:45:51 PM Report

The new snow blowers are pathetic, with the exception of a Honda product.
They try and make everything lighter and cheaper these days to save themselves money, and walla, you get junk!
theprotector 2/12/2014 7:41:42 AM Report

no bias there bj LoL!!

dutch touch 2/12/2014 7:50:12 AM Report

Hey " Logic" good answer.
Gurpy 2/12/2014 7:58:46 AM Report

It`s even better when you have a neighbor who is to irresponsible to shovel her side of the shared driveway!! She`s been warned to NOT use mine!
back4more 2/12/2014 8:50:47 AM Report one wants to hear about your petty little the woman out...step a man some day...
crashed13 2/12/2014 10:01:32 AM Report

Get a 4x4 and crawl in and out of the side window.
Gurpy 2/12/2014 2:27:23 PM Report

Grow a brain! First I am a woman who due to medical conditions can barely do my own. Secondly, if you do not like my posts...take a hike!
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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