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Shoveling can create heart strain

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The sight of a lovely first snowfall can touch the hearts of winter-loving Minnesotans. But shoveling loads of it can actually create serious damage to those hearts.

The Pioneer Press reminds people who are shoveling or snow blowing to be cautious, especially if they are not accustomed to exercising. Dr. David Warren, an ER physician at Regions Hospital, encourages people to loosen their muscles before starting the snow removal, and then take things slowly. He recommends lifting many light shovelsful instead of digging out big scoops. Take frequent breaks and, Dr Warren advises, don't pressured to get it all cleared at once.

How do you know if you've worked yourself into a dangerous position? If you begin to feel squeezing pain in your chest that may radiate to the neck, shoulder, arm or jaw or cold sweats, nausea or vomiting, take a break immediately. If the pain doesn't go away call 911.

In a post about the protecting the heart from the dangers of snow shoveling, Harvard Health Publications calls snow shoveling " a known trigger for heart attacks," and goes on to state that emergency rooms in the snowbelt gear up for extra cases during heavy snowfall events. The publication quotes a study from the University of Virginia Medical Center that suggests that anyone who has received an artery-opening stent in the preceding year or so might want to be especially careful about clearing snow.

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