Many Hudson Valley residents were out shoveling this weekend with the latest snowstorm. According to the National Weather Service and Times Union, areas in the Hudson Valley received anywhere between 2.3 inches of snow to 8.8 inches of snow, with an average of 5.3 inches.

Shoveling snow is nothing new to New York residents, but how many people have considered the health risks?

According to the National Safety Council, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and up to 100 deaths each year. Snow shoveling is more than just a typical household chore. Sudden exertion from lifting hundreds of pounds of snow or operating a heavy blower can amount to serious injury and strain on the heart. The cold, as well, can increase heart rate and blood pressure. This can cause blood clotting and the constriction of arteries, regardless of age and overall health. This is a major risk, however, for anyone 40 and older, or who is relatively inactive.

The Orange County Government Facebook page issued a post this Saturday stating the American Heart Association’s tips for heart-safe snow shoveling in order to prevent a variety of health risks.

• Give yourself a break: Take frequent breaks to avoid overstressing your heart. Pay attention to how your body feels during those breaks.
• Do not eat a big meal before or soon after shoveling: Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
• Use a small shovel or a snow thrower: The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts. When possible, simply push the snow.
• Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Carry your cellphone in your pocket and call 911 immediately if you experience any signs of a heart attack.
• Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia: Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of the body’s heat can be lost through the head.
• Remember to take it slow when shoveling. Stay safe and warm today.

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