How to Prevent a Heart Attack when Shoveling Snow

National Jewish Health Cardiologist Andrew Freeman, MD, describes how shoveling snow can be hard on the heart and offers heart-healthy suggestions to help prevent having a heart attack while shoveling.



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I want to warn everybody that, unfortunately, snow is coming and especially in parts of this country where it’s inevitable, there’s going to be a lot of it.

And usually in the shoulder seasons, the first part of winter and the last part of winter, is when snow comes and it’s very heavy and very wet.

And these can put and enormous strain on one’s body.

So I always tell people, “Be careful when you’re shoveling.”

You shovel snow first thing in the morning, first you’re more likely to have a heart attack first thing in the morning.

When it’s super cold, this can precipitate vasospasm which means the coronary arteries can spasm down and put even more demand on your heart, so make sure you bundle up, you take breaks to warm up, and you use a smaller shovel.

These days they have these wheel barrow sized shovels where you can shovel enormous loads, but it puts an enormous load on you and your heart.

Use smaller shovels and you’re not sure if you should be shoveling snow, check with your doctor, or pay the neighbors children to do it.

But in short, be careful that you don’t overdo it when you’re shoveling snow.

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