ER doctor on shoveling snow: Don't overdo it

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FLINT (WJRT) (01/23/19) -- It's something many of us do every time it snows -- that is, get out and shovel!

But a Southwest Michigan man over the weekend was not so lucky; he had a heart attack and died while shoveling.

It may seem like a no-brainer that shoveling snow is a relatively easy task, but it's not easy on the heart, especially if you're not physically fit.

"We don't do it every day. people aren't conditioned to do it. And it's a form of exercise with a lot of lifting and a lot of breathing fast because of the amount of work that's involved," said Mclaren-Flint Emergency Room Physician Director Dr. Raymond Rudoni.

Dr. Rudoni says shoveling snow is no different than beginning an exercise program right before you go see your doctor.

"If you push yourself too hard, whether it's on a treadmill or jogging or riding a bike or lifting weights and you're not prepared for it, you're heart can under go stress it's not accustomed to," he said.

Which could lead to a heart attack. And pre-existing risk factors could put you even more at risk.

"blood pressure problems, diabetes, heavy smokers, people that have cholesterol issues or people who have heart attacks in their families."

So you might be wondering if there's a right or wrong way to shovel snow?

The answer is yes.

Doctor Rudoni says to take your time, don't rush it, and bending at the knees is better than bending your back.

"The important thing is if you're out there and you're exerting yourself, if you start to feel symptoms you're not accustomed to, you need to stop and call your doctor or call 911 if you're having chest pain and go to the hospital."

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