Manitobans urged to stay heart healthy when shovelling snow

Although we’re barely into November, the snow seems like it’s planning on sticking around in Manitoba, which means regular trips outside to shovel for many of us.

Clearing snow from your sidewalk or driveway, however, can be more than just an annoying chore — according to the Manitoba Heart and Stroke Foundation, the shovelling season brings with it an increased risk of heart attacks.

“I think it’s important to note that a lot of people don’t know that mortality rates for heart attacks are actually about 10 per cent higher in winter months compared to the warmer months,” Heart and Stroke’s Kaitlyn Archibald told Global Winnipeg.

“For older people, that danger is even greater. The cold weather is associated with an increase in your blood pressure, which can raise your risk for both heart attack and stroke.”

Archibald said while it’s ideal to shovel when the snow is fresh and not quite as heavy, if you can’t get to it right away, it’s important to warm up before you head out, take breaks if it’s getting too strenuous, and don’t be ashamed to ask for help from a friend, family member or neighbour if you need it — and to offer that help if you’re younger or fitter.

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“Maybe if you’re in good shape and looking for some exercise, maybe check in on your neighbours and see if maybe you can help them out and help tackle the snow together.”

Heart and Stroke is encouraging Manitobans to watch for the ‘classic’ signs of heart attack, which include chest pain, a feeling of pressure, squeezing or burning. Signs can also include sweating, upper body discomfort, nausea or shortness of breath.

The symptoms don’t manifest the same way for everyone, however.

“These symptoms might look a little different in women — they’re not maybe going to have the same classic symptoms that men might have,” Archibald said.

“(Women might experience) lower chest pressure or even into your abdomen; it could look like dizziness or even extreme fatigue.”

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