Health & Wellness Blog

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Shoveling Snow and Heart Health

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According to WJLA, the D.C. area gets an average of about 15 inches of snow per year.  Although we saw little snow in the winter of 2019-2020, we should prepare for the potential of closer-to-average snow fall, which means: SHOVELING SNOW!  Hospitals tend to see an increase in heart attacks after a snowstorm when people have been outside shoveling snow.  This often happens to people who have no known issues with their heart and thought they were perfectly healthy.  Why do hospitals see this increase? 

Snowstorms set the scene for heart troubles.  The air is cold, which constricts blood vessels throughout the entire body, causing a rise in your blood pressure.  This blood vessel constriction also includes your coronary arteries.  Snow shoveling is a vigorous activity, which will quickly increase your heart rate. The combination of increased blood pressure, constricted coronary arteries, and increased heart rate puts a huge demand on your heart that it may not be able to handle.  Snow shoveling has been likened to a maximal effort stress test.  If you are not used to performing vigorous activity and go outside to shovel, the demand you are placing on your heart puts you at risk for reduced blood flow to the heart muscle and a heart attack.

If you must remove snow after a storm, consider these tips.

  • Hire someone to shovel your driveway and sidewalk.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel tired, stop, and go inside.
  • Break up the shoveling into parts, taking breaks in between.
  • Do not strain or hold your breath when you are lifting snow. Try pushing the snow with your shovel, taking small scoops, or using a small shovel.
  • Snow blowers are heavy too. Be aware that pushing a snow blower may also place extra demand on the heart.
  • Wear warm clothes when outside; use layers.
  • Make sure you are drinking water even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Don’t forget about your back! Squat down, use your legs, and bend at the knees when lifting snow to prevent back strain.

If you experience symptoms such as chest pain/pressure/burning/squeezing/fullness, shortness of breath, arm pain, jaw pain, acid-reflux-like symptoms, a sudden cold-sweat, lightheadedness, nausea/vomiting, or anything out of the ordinary, this could a be sign of a heart attack.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.  Call 911.  Do NOT drive yourself or ask a loved one to drive you to the hospital. 

Make your health a priority in 2021.  Start by scheduling your annual physical with your primary care provider.  We glorify God in many ways.  Caring for our bodies keeps us healthy enough to serve Him!

Posted by Jenny Fabian with
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Tips for Your Heart

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Looking to improve your heart health? Check out these tips from the American Heart Association!

1. Eat smart. Aim to eat healthy instead of dieting. Include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, low-fat dairy products, and healthier fats. For tips on how to do this, go here

2. Add color. Aim to add fruits or vegetables to every meal and snack. If you already do this, try adding fruits and vegetables of every color since this is the best way to optimize important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that prevent heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. Learn more...

3. Move more. Make a goal of doing an exercise you enjoy for 150 minutes per week. That’s just a little more than 20 minutes per day and this can be split into shorter sessions to fit around your schedule. For tips on how to take the first steps, go here

4. Be well. Health is more than healthy eating and exercise. Getting adequate sleep, managing stress, connecting socially, practicing mindfulness, and keeping your mind and body fit are important for general well-being. Learn more...

5. Know your numbers. Visit your primary care provider for a physical annually and talk about personal goals for cholesterol and blood pressure. Learn what your numbers are and how you can control them.
Learn more about cholesterol...

Learn more about blood pressure... 

Jenny Fabian is a registered nurse specializing in cardiac care. She is a wife, mother of one (soon to be two), and has a dog and cat. Jenny enjoys helping people learn ways to take control of their health and make positive, lasting lifestyle changes. She has been a member of the health and wellness committee for years.
Posted by Jenny Fabian with
Tags: health, heart