BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Kristy Smorol from the American Heart Association said it’s good to be active all year long. But there are some additional risks during the winter.
"Your blood pressure may already be up; your heart is working to keep you warm."
The American Heart Association estimates hundreds of Americans suffer a deadly heart attack during or just after shoveling snow every year.
"Just like we say check with your doctor about starting an exercise regime, check with your doctor about snow shoveling as well, it is a physical activity, you want to make sure you're prepared," Smorol said.
Smorol said some people are more susceptible to heart attacks in the cold weather and while shoveling.
"If you're someone who is sedentary, if you're already at risk for heart failure or conditions, if you have high blood pressure, if you've gotten any warnings from your doctor about physical activity,” Smorol said.
But there are some steps you can take to help decrease your risk of a heart attack while shoveling snow, like layering up.
"Hats, gloves, scarves, whatever you need to keep yourself warm," Smorol said.
Smorol said you should also avoid shoveling after a big meal or drinking alcohol. And she said to stay hydrated. And she said trading out a big shovel for a smaller one may help decrease the stress on your heart
"If you got a smaller shovel or a smaller shovel full, that's a little bit easier,” Smorol said. “If possible, just push the snow instead of lifting it."
There are some signs to look out for if you think you may be having a heart attack. Smorol said the most common symptom is chest pain or pressure, like an elephant sitting on your chest. But there are other sings too.
"Cold sweats, lightheadedness, nausea, indigestion,” Smorol said. “It might be neck, arm, back and shoulder pain."
And if you think you're having a heart attack, Smorol said do not hesitate to call 911.
"Don't die of doubt,” Smorol said. “The safest place to be is at the hospital."