While people work hard clearing snow with a shovel, they have a wonderful opportunity to get physical exercise. However, experts warn that such “physical exercise” is associated with the risk of a deadly health hazard. Cleaning snow manually should be carried out with extreme caution, they believe.
A group of experts from the United States Department of Health issued a press release in which they warned American citizens regarding the dangers associated with the work of removing snow manually during the winter using shovels.
It turned out that the medics did not exaggerate. Statistics of tragic cases in several counties of state of Illinois, which suffered a snow storm, confirm it is rather possible to die while trying to clear the accumulations of snow. Over a period of approximately 2 days (during this time the snow storm was raging), there were 13 deaths in two counties, caused by myocardial infarction, which occurred at a time when the victims of the heart attack were busy clearing snow near their homes. It was even called “heart-attack snow” by cardiologists.
It is reported that the 13 victims of the “heart-attack snow” were mostly men – only one woman died as a result of strain through heavy physical activities with a shovel. One of the snow victims was less than 50 years old at the moment of death, three of them were under 60 and nine of them were under 70.
The experts attribute the development of myocardial infarction at clearing the snow with the effect of 3 factors:
- Significant physical activity for the heart that was dramatically increased,
- Reflex vasoconstriction at low temperature, which affects blood flow to the heart muscle,
- Clearing snow early in the morning, when the risk of heart attack is the highest.
The thinning of the heart muscle (the myocardium) is possible with consequent expansion of the atrium and/or ventriculus in case of sudden physical activity for men who are not used to them. This abnormality leads to stagnation in the small and big circles of blood circulation. The organs are not supplied enough with oxygen, and hypoxia – oxygen starvation – arises.
Doctors warn everyone who is suffering heavy snowfalls to observe health precautions and not to challenge their bodies for physical strength. Sudden physical exertion is contraindicated for people with diseases of the cardiovascular system (hypertension, ischemia, heart disease, myocarditis, pericarditis, endocarditis, arteriosclerosis, etc.)