With more snow predicted for our area, it’s important for us all to be mindful of slippery walkways and the potential strain involved in clearing driveways and sidewalks.
When the flakes stop falling and the winds subside, we should all take a step back before picking up a shovel or fueling up the snow blower. The stories of individuals having shoveling-provoked heart attacks are all too real, so we want to share some facts and common-sense advice that can decrease the risk of this wintertime threat.
The American Heart Association (AHA) tells us that cold temperatures and physical exertion increase the heart’s workload. That’s because the cold constricts blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart, exercise makes the heart beat faster, and blood pressure is increased. When the heart is working harder, plaque can dislodge from an artery and cause a heart attack—particularly for anyone who has an existing heart-related condition or is not accustomed to being physically active.
A key piece of advice is to talk with your doctor about whether your heart is healthy enough to shovel snow, push a snow blower, or even take on the challenges of walking through deep snow and slush. Listening to your body is important, too. Take breaks when you are tired, and evaluate how you feel. If you experience any physical symptoms you’ve never felt before, seek medical attention. And, of course, if you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
Eating a large meal also makes the heart work harder, so avoid eating a lot shortly before or after shoveling. Avoid alcohol, as well, which can mask symptoms an individual might experience. Using a smaller shovel for lighter loads, and pushing rather than lifting snow are recommended, as well. When in doubt, seek out help clearing your property of snow.
Finally, use this time to re-assess how the wintry weather is affecting your day-to-day life. Is it making it harder for you or a loved one to get around? Are you relying more on others to help with chores or to buy groceries? Do you avoid driving or heading outside altogether? Perhaps, you are beginning to experience the isolation that can come with being a bit shut-in during winter. If so, it may be time to consider ways to increase your independence and social interactions while decreasing worry.
If Village at Proprietors Green can be of help in this regard click the Schedule a Tour button below (or at the top of the page) to get in touch. We would be pleased to answer your questions about independent living, assisted living and memory care, or to offer you a personalized tour. And, leave the shoveling to us!