Heart-safe Snow Shoveling

Man removing snow in winterI have been avoiding any physical labor the past few months, making sure I do not put unnecessary strain on my weakened heart.

It can be hard not to do some work, especially as we live in snow territory and expect a large amount of snow during the winter.

This winter I hooked up with a local snowplowing guy, and he plows my driveway for about $60.  I hate giving someone money for something I can do, but it is so much easier than attempting to clear the 150ft driveway, uphill, with a snowblower.

To my amazement, the American Heart Association has shared some tips for heart-safe snow shoveling.  I’ve taken the liberty of copying the tips directly from their site 🙂

  • Give yourself a break: Take frequent breaks to avoid overstressing your heart. Pay attention to how your body feels during those breaks.
  • Don’t eat a big meal before or soon after shoveling: Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
  • Use a small shovel or a snow thrower: The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts. When possible, simply push the snow.
  • Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Carry your cellphone in your pocket and call 911 immediately if you experience any signs of a heart attack.
  • Do not drink alcohol before or immediately after shoveling: Alcohol can increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause you to underestimate the extra strain your body is under in the cold.
  • Consult a doctor ahead of time: Before you start shoveling, talk with your doctor if you have a medical condition, do not exercise regularly or are middle-aged or older.
  • Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia: Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of the body’s heat can be lost through the head.
  • Learn CPR. Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Hands-only CPR makes it easier than ever to save a life. If an adult suddenly collapses, call 9-1-1 and begin pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest until help arrives.

Remember to take it slow when shoveling. Take it easy out there!

Stay warm and enjoy the wintery landscape drinking a nice cup of decaf coffee 🙂

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