You may not realize it, but shoveling snow posses a serious health threat to Americans during the winter months. Every year in the United States, roughly 100 people die of heart attacks in relation to shoveling snow – with many more admitted to the hospital for chest pains and other heart-related complications.
A study conducted in Canada from 1981 to 2014 followed 128,000 hospital admissions and more than 68,000 deaths due to heart attacks. Here is what the study found in relation to snowfall and heart failure:
- More snow accumulation resulted in more men being admitted for heart attacks. Snowfall greater than eight inches saw a 16 percent increase in hospital admissions compared to days without snowfall.
- Deeper snowfall saw more men die due to heart attacks. A 34 percent increase was seen the day after an eight-inch snowfall.
- The longer snowfall continued, higher rates of heart failure occurred among men.
It is important to note that this study found links between snowfall and heart attacks in men that did not have cardiovascular risk factors. This study also did not ask the 128,000 hospital admissions whether they shoveled snow or not, but a strong correlation can be deduced that the more strenuous snow shoveling is, there is an amplified risk of heart failure.
A few reasons as to why snow shoveling can cause some individuals to experience heart-related complications include:
- Snow shoveling can quickly raise blood pressure and heart rate.
- Removing snow requires heavy use of different parts of the body that may not receive regular exercise.
- Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, limiting blood flow.
It is recommended that if you have heart disease or are at risk of heart disease to avoid shoveling snow if possible. We offer snow removal services for both residential and commercial clients. Learn more about how we can help keep your driveway clear, and you out of the snow.
Health Tips for Shoveling Snow
The best way to shovel snow is the safest way. It’s suggested to consult with your physician regarding your health prior to shoveling snow during the winter months. Other safety tips include:
- Most heart attacks occur in the morning. You should wait at least 30 minutes before starting to shovel.
- Do not eat a large meal before shoveling snow. This will divert blood flow from the heart to the stomach.
Warm-up your muscles by stretching prior to beginning.
- Do not consume coffee or tobacco products before, during, or soon after shoveling as these products raise blood pressure and heart rate.
- Take frequent breaks.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Dress in layers to avoid hypothermia or overheating.
- Cover your head and neck from the elements.
- Cover your mouth from breathing in the cold air as this can cause chest pain and breathing problems.
- Watch for warning signs of heart complications like lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, etc. If you suspect you might be having a heart attack, call 9-1-1.
Technical Tips for Shoveling Snow
Shoveling snow can be backbreaking work, therefore it is important to use the best technique and strategy when removing snow from your walkways. In an effort to be the most effective and safe with your health it is important to only lift what you feel comfortable with. It is best to break up snow shoveling into sections, and if the snowfall is particularly deep, break it up into separate levels of snow removal (ex. Top four inches, next four inches).
In order to protect your back follow this technique:
- With one hand near the shovel’s head and the other near the handle, bend with your knees, keeping your back straight. Scoop the snow into the shovel.
- Slowly raise your body by lifting yourself with your knees. Keep the shovel close to your body; avoid extending the weight away from your core.
- Walk the snow past the edge of the driveway/walkway at least one foot, and keeping your back straight up and down, dump the snow into the designated area.
Other helpful snow shoveling tips include:
- Avoid walking or driving on the snow prior to shoveling.
- Wax your shovel with non-stick cooking spray or car wax.
- Wear socks over your shoes/boots in order to gain better traction on the snow.
- Don’t forget to ensure your dryer vent is clear of snow!
The Best Snow Removal Service in Columbia, MO
In the winter months, having a trained team do your snow removal for you eliminates the risk and worry for the safety of your friends, family, and/or customers. Our experts will keep a watch on your property and snowfall totals to automatically show up and perform the removal without you having to call us every time for assistance.
To inquire about our snow removal process, pricing, or general questions about our services — contact us here or at: (573)-268-3947.