Pay attention to heart risks while shoveling - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pay attention to heart risks while shoveling

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As the bulk of another snow storm rolls into eastern Iowa, some are already reaching for their shovel to get a head start.

But, before picking up the shovel, doctors stress that the snowy chore can lead to heart risks.

"With the upcoming snow, we always get worried," Dr. Daniel Wing, an Mercy Iowa City emergency physician, said.

Mercy Iowa City Hospital is the only accredited Chest Pain Center in Johnson County. They see heart attacks every single day and with each season comes different reasons. Now is the time where they're seeing more heart attacks due to the flu and shoveling snow.

Wing said, for some, shoveling can cause a strain on the body.

"They are exerting themselves and are doing more activity than they're used to," he said. "The heart muscle doesn't get enough blood flow to supply what it needs, and it tends to get worse when you exert yourself.  So when people are bending over, pushing snow and lifting it repeatedly, that's when it can occur."

His advice is simple: take it slow. He said it won't matter whether it's light snow or heavy snow, if you follow that advice.

"As long as you shovel slow enough, it doesn't matter what kind of snow it is. What they worry about is with shoveling the heavy amounts faster, and it's just like lifting heavier weights faster," Wing said. "Shoveling the snow is not an emergency but having a heart attack is. We recommend people slow down, stay safe and enjoy the weather."

Before heading outside, Wing also recommended people dress appropriately.  Also, let someone know you're shoveling and when you expect to be done. That way, they'll know to look for you in case something goes wrong.

He said it's also important to know the risk factors and symptoms of a heart attack, such as obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Symptoms include pain in the chest, shoulders and arms. If symptoms last for more than a few minutes, Wing said to stop what you're doing and call 9-1-1. He also said to take an aspirin.

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