Tips from a Cardiologist for Shoveling Heavy Snow

Feb 16, 2016

Credit freeimages.com/St. Mattox

Doctors worry about people shoveling the kind of wet, heavy snow that fell throughout the Rochester region today.

Christopher Cove, MD., a cardiologist at UR Medicine, says there is a risk associated with shoveling if you smoke, are not physically fit, or have heart disease or diabetes.

"And often it's very cold and it's early in the morning and they're running out and they're stressed because they have to get to work. I always call that, pun intended, 'the perfect storm.' "

Dr. Cove said if you experience shortness of breath, sweating, or a sore back, it's your body's signal to stop or slow down.

He said the most important advice is to make sure you get physical activity throughout the year and don't try to tackle heavy shoveling if you're not accustomed to strenuous physical activity.

Dr. Cove says some people shouldn't be shoveling at all, but for those who do, he recommends dressing warmly.

"And then start slowly when you get out there to shovel. Keep the load light and do small amounts on your shovel. And use good lifting techniques. Use your legs and don't bend over."

Dr. Cove said even using a snow blower can be too strenuous for some people who have a history of disease or who are not physically fit.