Nebraskans are digging out after two days of blizzard conditions in some areas. For many that means working with a shovel. University of Nebraska Medical Center Associate Professor Gib Willett is a physical therapist and says many people are not used to this kind of physical activity and can easily get into trouble.
First, Willett says many people are not used to this kind of physical activity that can increase the risk of a heart attack. He says it is important to know the symptoms.
Willett says, “If you are starting to have some chest pains, intense shortness of breath that isn’t going away, pain down the left arm, sometimes even in the back. Women are more known to have atypical heart symptoms so pain in the jaw and in the arm more so than in the chest.” He says if you have any of these symptoms seek medical help immediately. Those with previous heart problems should only shovel if they have their doctor’s approval.
Willett says shoveling can also cause other health problems like back injuries. He says using a small shovel will take you longer but smaller loads mean less stress to the back and heart. He recommends using your legs more while shoveling, avoid twisting because that also stresses the back and heart. If possible, pushing the snow instead of shoveling it is easier on the body.
There is an increase in the number of emergency room visits during and after snowfalls. CHI Health in the Omaha metro area treated 23 patients for weather related injuries on Tuesday. Those included exposure to the cold, cardiac events, slips and falls and snow blower injuries.