Shoveling snow, heart attack risk for many

Dec. 13, 2010 at 7:51 PM
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CHICAGO, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Anyone either age 50 or older, a history of smoking, obesity or a sedentary lifestyle should get a medical clearance before shoveling snow, doctors say.

Health experts at Northwestern Medicine's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute in Chicago say physical activity such as shoveling raises heart rate and blood pressure, while cold temperatures reduce circulation to the body's extremities, so shoveling heavy snow in frigid temperatures can cause heart attacks.

With a doctor's permission, go ahead and shovel but ease into it, the doctors advise. Sudden exertion in cold weather is dangerous for the heart, they say.

"If you begin to feel winded or overexerted while shoveling, take a break. These are signs that you're doing more than your body can handle," the experts say in a statement. "At the first sign of any chest pain or discomfort, stop shoveling immediately and seek medical attention."

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