Why shoveling snow can put your health at risk - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Why shoveling snow can put your health at risk

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Most areas of Southern West Virginia saw more than a foot of snow in their driveways Thursday.

Many of us are still shoveling our way out on Friday. But did you know just half an hour of strenuous shoveling could lead to a heart attack?

In the warm weather months, West Virginians hit up their very own backyard playground: white water rafting, hiking and fishing. But in the winter, beyond the slopes, it's easy to become sedentary.

Emergency Room Physician Dr. Knopp told 59News when you're not used to physical activity every day and you pick up the shovel, heart attacks can unfortunately be right around the corner.

"This time of year we do see an increased amount of patients with heart issues due to shoveling snow, especially in people who have been inactive for several months," he said.

Meet Darold Colbird. He's only 33 years old, in good health and had a heart attack from only half an hour or so of a strenuous activity.

"I was just out cutting wood and I had a sharp pain in my chest and got real dizzy and threw up. I went to the doctor and had a CT scan and he told me I had a heart attack," said Colbird.

Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pains, nausea, fatigue, numbness of the arms and lower back pain.

For the average healthy person with no known health conditions, Dr. Knopp recommends going indoors and taking a break about every 15 or 20 minutes.

During every break, Dr. Knopp advises people to get warm, relax and stay hydrated. Beckley resident Lloyd Helton told us it's all about knowing your limit and resting when you're tired.

"I have done about 10 or 15 minutes and now I'm taking a break. I'm getting old. I don't really time myself but when I'm tired I take a break or rest up on my truck," Helton said.

Doctor Knopp said you should not drink caffeine or eat a heavy meal before shoveling.