Shoveling snow is strenuous
Shoveling snow is physically taxing even for those in good shape. For those at high risk for heart disease, shoveling snow can be especially dangerous because of the strain that it puts on the heart. “In the cold weather, your smaller arteries, particularly in your feet and arms, have a tendency to constrict, and it creates a lot of back pressure on the heart,” says Shoeb Sitafalwalla, MD, cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. “This, combined with the fact that you’re lifting or shoveling heavy amounts of snow, increases the heart rate and oxygen demand on the heart.” If you have a pre-existing heart condition, you risk taxing your heart to a level that it simply can’t handle, Dr. Sitafalwalla says. If you have coronary artery disease, heart failure, congestive heart failure, a weakened heart muscle, or tight or leaky valves that impede blood flow to the heart, it’s best to avoid shoveling snow altogether. Find out the 15 life-saving tips to prevent heart disease.
Don’t eat a big meal before shoveling snow
Your gut will demand more blood to digest food, so you have less available for your heart. “This adds more strain to an already strained system,” Dr. Sitafalwalla says. Avoid moderate or heavy alcohol use before shoveling snow as well. People may think the alcohol will warm them up, but the liquor is actually constricting the blood vessels, creating more back pressure on the heart.