Is snow shoveling bad for my heart?

When it comes to older adults and snow shoveling, know the risk factors, because according to Martin Cohen, MD, interventional cardiologist at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), “Shoveling can be a very dangerous activity for many people, especially those with certain heart conditions, if the right precautions aren’t taken.” And, according to Dr. Cohen, anyone with a history of heart disease should avoid shoveling whenever possible. Instead, he suggests, find a neighborhood kid who wants to make a few extra dollars by shoveling for you. But for those who can’t relinquish their snow-shoveling duties, the doctor suggests following these shoveling safety tips:

  • Never shovel alone if you have high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Stretch out and warm up before shoveling
  • Avoid eating a big meal immediately before or after shoveling
  • Use a small shovel or snow thrower, since it is safer to lift smaller amounts or to push the snow
  • Learn heart attack warning signs and listen to your body