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Snow shoveling can cause heart problems after 7 minutes

12:37 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - So often after a big snow storm we hear of people having heart attacks and strokes because shoveling all that snow off your driveway can take a real toll on your body and land you in the hospital.

With wet heavy snow like this it doesn't take long to overwork yourself.

NewsChannel 5's Grant Bissell had the Rock Community Fire Protection District monitor his vital signs as he shoveled snow Monday, and his heart rate skyrocketed.

"So right now your heart rate is about, this is your heart rate here. It's been bouncing around 65-70," said Paramedic Tyler McBroom.

An average heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 80 beats per minute, depending on your age. But once you start working hard, like shoveling snow, that rate can jump quickly.

Bissell shoveled for three minutes and then had the paramedics check him again.

"Your heart rate is up. You were at about 70. Now you're bouncing around at 90-95," said McBroom.

He was then checked after five minutes of shoveling.

"Right now you're actually tachycardic. That's when your heart rate is over 100 bmp. It's at about 120ish," said McBroom.

McBroom says that's still in the normal range for someone Bissell's age who's exercising. But it's when he shoveled for seven minutes straight that his heart rate more than doubled from the resting rate of 70 to 150 beats per minute. It's at that level where people may get into trouble.

"There's definitely an increase of chest pain calls, cardiac calls and stroke calls because a lot of times people want to clear their driveways but they're not in shape for that," said Harder. "Many times people will just dismiss these chest pains as just overworking. But never dismiss that. Immediately call 911. That's what we're there for."

Harder says the elderly and people who have already had a heart attack are at a greater risk of running into trouble because their hearts just can't maintain that high work load.

If you're in a situation like that and need help, you may just be best to throw the neighbor kid a few bucks and have him do it for you.

Grant Bissell, KSDK

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