Snow shovelling: Risks and mistakes to avoid

According to the doctors, snow shovelling is a high intensity work. It puts lots of stress on the heart.
"Snow shovelling can result in serious health issues like cardiac arrest, brain haemorrhage, even death in some cases."
"Snow shovelling can result in serious health issues like cardiac arrest, brain haemorrhage, even death in some cases." File: ANI

During winter season, especially when there is a heavy snowfall, people in Kashmir are often seen clearing the snow from the paths, roofs of their houses.

Snow shovelling may be an easy task for the people but it can be dangerous and can put a lot of strain on the body.

Snow shovelling can result in serious health issues like cardiac arrest, brain haemorrhage, even death in some cases.

According to the doctors, snow shovelling is a high intensity work. It puts lots of stress on the heart.

Valley based Cardiologist said that snow shovelling should be avoided by patients who have coronary artery disease (blockage), Cardiomyopathy, pulmonary artery hypertension, Aortic stenosis. He said in these cases, snow shovelling can cause sudden death in such patients.

Snow shovelling is a high-intensity activity that requires a lot of physical effort, which can raise the heart rate and stress the cardiovascular system. This is especially true for people who have underlying heart conditions or are older.

Overall, snow shovelling can be a dangerous activity, but it can be done safely with proper precautions.Those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions should consider hiring a professional or enlisting the assistance of a family member or friend to shovel their snow.

Furthermore, using proper technique and taking breaks as needed can help reduce the risk of injury and strain on the body.

Even, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) have urged people to be careful while clearing snow from their driveways, porches or sidewalks. According to them, lifting heavy snow causes sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate that puts more strain on the heart. They say that people at greatest risk are those who are habitually sedentary with known or suspected heart disease, who go out once a year to clear the snow.

Even, the American Heart Association cautions that snow shovelling may carry increased risks for a cardiac event.

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading non-profit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, urges caution when picking up that shovel or even starting the snowblower.

Research shows that many people may face an increased risk of a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest after shovelling heavy snow.

According to the research, snow shoveling put extra stress on the heart, especially among people who aren’t used to regular exercise. The scientific research studies over the years have identified the dangers of shoveling snow for people with and without previously known heart disease.

Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. Snow shoveling is also considered a moderate physical activity. But researchers have reported an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks among shovelers after heavy snowfall.

This rise may be due to the sudden demand shoveling places on an individual’s heart. It can cause a quick increase in heart rate and blood pressure. One study determined that after only two minutes of shoveling, sedentary men’s heart rates rose to levels higher than those normally recommended during aerobic exercise.

The cold must also be taken into account. Cold air makes it harder to work and breathe, which adds extra strain on the body.

When a blood clot forms inside a coronary artery (a vessel that nourishes the heart), it can completely block blood flow to part of the heart. Cut off from their supply of life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients, heart muscle cells begin to shut down, and then die. This is what doctors call a myocardial infarction or acute coronary syndrome. The rest of us call it a heart attack.

Back injuries can also result from snow shovelling.This is due to both the repetitive motions of shovelling and the weight of the snow being moved.Inadequate technique, such as bending at the waist rather than the knees, can increase the risk of injury.

Snow shovelling, in addition to the physical strain, can be exhausting and cause fatigue. This is especially true for those who are not accustomed to physical activity or who are in poor physical condition.

It is critical to take breaks and rest, when necessary, as well as to stay hydrated and properly fuelled.


Here are some precautions people should take while snow shoveling:


Warm up:

Stretch and do some light exercises before shoveling to warm up your muscles.


Use proper equipment:

Use a shovel that’s right for your height and strength, and wear warm clothing, gloves, hat, and boots.


Lift correctly:

When lifting snow, bend your knees and use your legs, not your back, to lift.


Take breaks:

Stop and rest every 15 minutes to avoid overexertion.


Stay hydrated:

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.


Know your limits:

Don’t shovel heavy, wet snow, and stop if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of strain.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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