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Heavy Snow Today Is Known As “Heart Attack Snow” But It Should Also Be Known As “Hand Injury Snow”

Tue February 26 2013 4:34 pm  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=59882
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Today’s snow is especially heavy and wet. Warm air in the atmosphere, and the actual snow falling to the ground brought the ground air temperature down to freezing or slightly below freezing. The snow was on the verge of being rain, which makes for heavy, wet snow.

Shoveling can be good exercise, but only if you are already in good shape. Shoveling stresses the low back, neck and shoulders and the cardiovascular system.

Most important, if you have heart attack risk factors, don’t shovel snow. Get someone to do it for you.

Every year people die from heart attacks or sudden cardiac death while shoveling snow. The combination of speed and load can be very stressful on the cardiovascular system. Learn to pace during shoveling. Learn to take your heart rate and know your safe target heart rate range. Watch for symptoms of breathlessness, muscle fatigue and chest discomfort. Keep in mind the following:

(1) heavy load puts more stress on the heart,

(2) excessive speed of shoveling puts more stress on the heart,

(3) how far you throw the snow puts varying levels of stress on the heart,

(4) longer duration of shoveling puts more stress on the heart, and

(5) breathing cold air puts more stress on the heart and lungs.

Consider multiple shoveling sessions rather than one big session at the end of the snowfall. Watch the weather forecast and radar to keep up with snowfall expectations.

Another risk of heavy wet snow is that it is more likely to clog the snowblower chute. More fingers and hand injuries occur when wet snow falls. Compared to dry snow, wet snow clogs the snowblower chute, resulting in people to putting their hands in the chute to dislodge the snow. If they forget to turn off the snow blower … OUCH. People often suffer serious injuries involving amputation of fingers.

The injured are lucky if they can have the fingers re-attached by a hand surgeon.

It is best to get in the habit of using a stick to dislodge the snow in the chute … even when you remember to shut off the snowblower … then even if you forget to turn off the blower, the stick gets damaged, not your hand. Make sure you follow the snowblower manufacturers directions.


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