not technically be winter just yet, but it sure feels like it with the wintry
mix of snow and ice that's pelting western Pennsylvania. And doctors say it’s just
that kind of weather that usually results in more people ending up at UPMC emergency departments.
will see cuts, bruises, broken bones and heart attacks after a winter
storm," says Jon Rittenberger, M.D., attending emergency
physician at UPMC Presbyterian.
year, nearly 11,000 people in the U.S. are injured while shoveling snow. Many
of them suffer heart attacks. Most are middle-aged, but many are even younger.
Cold weather and exertion can be rough on the body, especially for those who
have a history of cardiac trouble and rarely exercise.
upper body workout of shoveling snow is stressful on the heart and can lead to
a heart attack. Cold air can trigger asthma attacks. It’s important to take
your time and take breaks. There’s no need to shovel the entire driveway in a
few minutes," Dr. Rittenberger said.
those who exercise regularly need to be careful when shoveling. When snow is on
the horizon, people go to the stores and get prepared by stocking up on food
and supplies, but they forget to take care of themselves. Stretch out and get
prepared as you would for any other workout.
warm up at the gym before a workout, but people tend to dive right in to shovel
snow," Dr. Rittenberger said.
suggests the following tips to avoid injury during bad weather:
- Don’t pile too much snow on the shovel when shoveling. Snow is heavy and lifting too much can put
undue stress on your heart – not to mention your back.
plenty of fluids. Most would not think of dehydration during winter, but loss
of fluids during exercise or play in cold conditions can accelerate
exposure to freezing temperatures, bundle in warm, layered and loose-fitting
clothing, making sure to protect the head, face, hands and feet. Be sure to
stay dry since wet clothing or skin can increase your frostbite risk. If
possible, go inside periodically to warm up.
drinking alcohol before or during exposure to cold weather since alcohol may
prevent you from realizing that your body is becoming too cold.
Labels: cardiovascular health, emergency medicine, heart attack, winter weather