RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Like it or not, winter has officially begun and snow has already arrived. Although winters in the Northeast are typically beautiful, especially after a fresh snowfall, the arrival of snow means it's time to start shoveling.
“We know that shoveling snow is a winter norm, but most people don't know that shoveling snow can actually pose a serious cardiac health risk to some people,” said Dr. George Becker, director of the Emergency Department at The Valley Hospital.
In fact, although most people are not in danger from shoveling, the American Heart Association -- or AHA -- still shares useful tips for anyone shoveling snow in the winter. To begin with, the AHA recommends that those who don’t exercise on a regular basis, those that have certain medical conditions, or those that are middle age or older consult with a doctor before shoveling.
The AHA also suggests following several tips to stay safe while shoveling:
- Take frequent rest breaks during shoveling.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal before or soon after shoveling.
- Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower.
- Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling.
- Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia.
- Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body.
Some signs of a heart attack include pain in the chest, arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach. Others may also break out in a cold sweat, feel short of breath, nauseated, lightheaded, or uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness in the center of their chest.
“If you are concerned that you may be having a heart attack, you should not hesitate about seeking medical treatment—every minute is crucial when experiencing a heart attack," said Becker. "Call 911 immediately or head directly to the closest emergency room.”
Valley's Emergency Department is located at 223 N. Van Dien Avenue in Ridgewood and is open 24/7, 365 days a year.