Published on February 02, 2022

Shoveling Heavy Snow Increases Heart Attack Risk: Silver Cross Expert

With winter weather in full effect today, be cautious of the hidden risks when outside shoveling heavy, wet snow. 

Snowman and shovel“Shoveling snow can be strenuous on your knees and back, but the combination of low temperatures and increased blood pressure can be catastrophic to your heart,” says Aaron Tabor, M.D., Emergency Room Physician at Silver Cross Hospital

According to the American Heart Association, even the increased exertion it takes to push a snow thrower can increase the heart rate and blood pressure significantly, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke. The risks are exacerbated for people with a medical history of diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. The elevated risk also includes people who have had bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty.    

“Any sudden onset of pain that radiates through your arm or neck accompanied with difficulty breathing or chest pain is a classic sign of a potentially fatal cardiac event,” Dr. Tabor added.  

Though the snow may be pretty to look at, take caution when clearing it from your driveway. 

Here are some quick tips for tackling the job safely:

  • Do a little bit at a time, with ample breaks.
  • Dress appropriately. Ensure your hands are covered, wear layers and keep your feet dry and warm.
  • Listen to your body.  If you feel tired or sluggish, it’s time for a hot cocoa break!
  • If you, a loved one or neighbor begins to show signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately. 

Looking to get ahead of any heart disease risks? Silver Cross will have you “Feeling fine at $49” with a Calcium Scoring CT Heart Scan. Calcium artery scoring is a quick, painless exam that uses high-speed CT scanning to measure calcium deposits in your heart. It's ideal for men over age 45 and women over age 55 who smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a family history of premature coronary artery disease.

Call 815-300-SCAN to schedule yours today. 

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.