Shoveling snow hard on the heart

8:29 PM, Feb 28, 2013   |    comments
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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As Mainers, we're no stranger  to snow. Many even have their shoveling routines down to a science. One thing you may not know though, is how much of an effect shoveling can have on your heart.

According to Eastern Maine Medical Center's Senior Exercise Physiologist, Sue Dearborn, the lack of exercise before shoveling combined with a previous heart condition can result in a serious outcome.

"It's sudden without any warm up and so blood pressure and heart rate suddenly go up and if this is happening to a person that has no experience or has not been active, has a pretty sedentary life style, then it is going to be a heavy strain on the heart," said Dearborn.

That heavy strain can sometimes result in a tragedy. During the Blizzard of 2013 last month, a 49-year-old Connecticut man died after suffering from what police called a "medical event" while shoveling his drive way.

To try to reduce the risk of a serious health injury there are several steps that experts recommend you take before heading out to clear your yard. According to the Harvard Medical School you should stretch and warm up your muscles before hand, shovel many light loads instead of trying to do fewer heavy ones. Take as many breaks as you need and drink plenty of water. If you experience any chest pains or you begin to feel lightheaded or short of breath stop what your doing and call 911 or your local emergency number right away.


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