(CBS DETROIT)– It’s pretty to look at, fun to play in, but Doctors say shoveling snow, has the potential to be deadly.

“We have reports each year between 1000 and 1,500 people die while shoveling heavy wet snow,” said Dr. Barry Franklin Ph.D, said Director Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehab, Beaumont Royal Oak.

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Dr. Franklin with Beaumont School of Medicine is one of the leading experts on the science behind the cardiovascular risks of snow shoveling. Their findings show shoveling is extremely strenuous on the body and heart and not just for older people.

 

“They wouldn’t let us use older individuals for this study, healthy young guys shoveling heavy wet snow they shoveled at 12 shovels a minute, 16 pounds of snow per shovel times 10 minutes, if you do the math its almost moving 2000 lbs, the weight of a mid-sized car in 10 minutes,” Franklin said.

 

Dr. Franklin says this strain mixed with underlying heart issues most people have and not even know it, is what can cause a fatal heart attack.

“85 percent of all US adults have heart disease if they’re over the age of 50,” said Franklin.

Dr. Franklin says the best way to find out if you’re at risk is to have a heart screen.

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The’re also ways to reduce your risk of a heart attack while shoveling.

  • Use a snow blower, reduces heart rate and demands
  • Dress appropriately, hats, gloves, winter coat
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal and consuming alcohol or caffeine before
  • Pace yourself
  • Push the snow and not lift it.

There are also warning signs to watch out for if you’re in distress while shoveling.

“You have pain or discomfort from your belly button on up that wasn’t there when you stated that could indicate your hearts not getting enough blood or oxygen your hearts being strained. Stop the activity and get checked out,” Franklin said.

Also, know the common signs of heart trouble and if you experience chest pain or pressure, lightheadedness or heart palpitations or irregular heart rhythms stop the activity immediately. Call 9-1-1 if symptoms don’t subside shortly after snow removal.

Learn more about cold weather and cardiovascular disease here.

Additional Resources From The American Heart Association :

 

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April Morton