by Jennifer Sierra
A local attorney in Campbell County and a retired fire chief in Boone County perish while shoveling snow on Monday. After hearing about 2 local men passing away from heart attacks yesterday, I wondered, “why do so many people die shoveling snow? What is it about shoveling snow as opposed to raking leaves and mowing the grass, that causes so much strain on people?”
After doing a little research on this I learned that it is a combination of factors that work together to create a perfect storm. According to an article in the BBC News from November 2014, Dr. Barry Franklin, a cardiologist with Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, when ‘young healthy men shoveled snow, their heart rate and blood pressure increased more than when they exercised on a treadmill.’ Franklin compiled a team to research this particular phenomena. Their study found that combining this strenuous arm work with cold air, which causes arteries to constrict and decrease blood supply, puts an intolerable amount of stress on your heart.
People that are at the greatest risk are those that are usually sedentary in their lives and then of out once or twice a year to remove snow, people that are overweight, smoke and/or people over 55. If you have to remove snow, use a shovel that allows you to push the snow instead of lifting it or pay a neighborhood kid to do it for you. Don’t drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after you shovel and take lots of breaks. Dr. Franklin stated that ‘shoveling snow is so dangerous he advises anyone over 55 not do it.’ Thousands of people die every year from doing this activity.
With the call for more snow coming overnight and into the morning, please share this bit of helpful information with your friends, family and neighbors to prevent this from happening to someone you care about. Be proactive and help your neighbors that are older or in poor health by shoveling their sidewalks and driveways. Someday you may need the help yourself.