ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Although we bundle up to stay healthy when freezing storms blanket the Capital Region, you’d probably rather have a common cold than a heart attack. Shoveling heavy and wet snow requires such intense exertion that it can cause heart attacks.
Medical professionals call it “heart attack snow.” Around a year ago, Frank Demasi, 70, of Scotia suffered a fatal heart attack while shoveling.
Because snow shoveling can be more strenuous than running a treadmill, Dr. Ray Magorien, a cardiologist at the Ohio State University, suggests protecting your heart.
- Do not shovel first thing in the morning, when blood clots easily and heart attacks are likely.
- Warm-up like you would for any intense exercise.
- Fuel up on a light meal beforehand.
- Be careful about too much caffeine.
- Wear layers.
- Use a smaller (lighter) shovel.
- Pace yourself and take breaks.
Watch for warning signs and call for help if you feel strange or experience nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, or chest heaviness, tightness, or cramping.
Many feel under the weather in the winter, and not all because of heart attacks.
Winter weather causes the common cold only indirectly, by making it easier for viruses to spread to compromised immune systems in lower temperatures.
Also beware: in cold, dry air, skin feels dry, itchy, cracked, and painful. These conditions intensify the symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis.
It’s not just the cold that endangers your health; prolonged periods of darkness cause seasonal affective disorder, which mimics many of the symptoms of clinical depression.