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The dangers of shoveling snow

The past few Iowa winters have been rather tame with regard to snowfall totals. But that hasn't been the case in 2019 thus far, with multiple snowstorms that have left driveways and sidewalks covered in the white stuff. What that has also meant is that we've had to clear the aforementioned surfaces, whether it be via a snowblower or the old fashioned way — a shovel.

But the next time the snow falls (and it will) and

you dash to the garage to grab the trusty snow shovel, do a quick, honest risk/reward assessment. If you're out of shape, is it worth a potential heart attack?

Shoveling can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and the cold air can cause constriction of the blood vessel and decrease oxygen to the heart — the recipe for a heart attack.

How about calling the neighbor boy and paying him $10 to clear your sidewalk? Or hire a professional service for $30? While it may seem like a bit of a hit to the wallet, it's nothing compared to the thousands of dollars in medical bills you'll rack up in the hospital while recovering from a heart attack.

If you decide to proceed yourself, please follow these tips: • Avoid shoveling immediately after you awaken, as most heart attacks occur early in the morning. Wait for at least 30 minutes and warm up. • Do not eat a heavy meal before shoveling: blood gets diverted from the heart to the stomach. • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling or during breaks. Stimulants elevate blood pressure and heart rate.

Be smart. Your life is more important than frozen rain.

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