Projected snowfall prompts warning from doctors

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Doctors are warning patients about the risks of shoveling snow.

Troy Schick said he used to enjoy shoveling snow.

“That was my way of being an adult and getting out and playing in the snow. Shoveling snow, I enjoyed it.”

But a couple of years ago, Schick had a heart attack. A triple bypass surgery saved his life. Among the things his doctors told him not to do was shoveling snow.

“We advise most if not all our cardiac patients to avoid shoveling snow particularly if it’s heavy snow,” said Dr. Zachary Hodes, a cardiologist at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.

Snow can weigh anywhere from five to 25 pounds per cubic foot depending on how wet it is. With three to five inches of wet snow expected in Central Indiana, that could mean 50-60 pounds of snow per square foot sitting on your driveway.

“When you get a particularly heavy snow, you have to realize that the amount of exertion and energy you have to put out and the demand you put on your heart increases significantly when the snow is heavy like it’s projected to be for this snowfall,” said Dr. Hodes.

And the weight of the snow is not the only problem. Hodes said cold temperatures add to the risk by increasing blood pressure.

“The fact that you’re out in cold, you may not heat up as you would in the Summer when you’re doing something straining and may not realize how much effort you are putting out and how much exertion you’ve expended out there.”

Schick is following his doctor’s advice and hopes others will do the same.

“Definitely don’t do it. Life is too short. Don’t go out there and shovel the snow. It’s just not worth it.”

If you have concerns, talk with your doctor about shoveling snow.

Avoid shoveling immediately after you wake up, wait at least 30 minutes– most heart attacks happen early in the morning. You should also remember to stretch before you shovel.

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