ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY, PA (WTAJ) — Now that it’s time to start shoveling snow, Altoona family doctor, Sarah Reinhardt says to be cautious, as it could trigger a heart attack.

Reinhardt says the first big snowfall of the year usually causes a significant number of heart attacks and back injuries. She warns to “shovel in small amounts, take breaks in between and rather than giving yourself 2 or 3 feet at a time, shovel a couple of inches, take a break and do another couple of inches.”

According to Conemaugh Health, cold weather causes blood vessels to narrow which decreases oxygen to the heart, and shoveling snow can raise your heart rate very quickly. WTAJ Reporter, Amanda Lee tested it out. Her resting heart rate was in the high 50’s to low 60’s and after shoveling for 2 minutes, it increased to 175.

The American Heart Association’s Communications Director, Larissa Bedrick tells us “with the heavier snow you definitely need to take some additional precautions, try to lift a little less, don’t try to rush through it. I know there’s a lot of snow we all want to clear.” She says people with heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol should be especially careful. If you fall into any of those categories, it might be best to ask a neighbor or hire a teenager to help.

Doctors advise you to seek medical help immediately if you have any symptoms of a heart attack, as more snow can bring slower response times.

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