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Warning: Use At Own Risk

Think twice before picking up that snow shovel.

Doctors say working in cold weather can set you up for disaster.

Studies show that heart attacks occur more frequently in the winter than the summer and the fatality rate is higher, says Dr. William Towne, an interventional cardiologist with Cadence Physician Group Cardiology at Delnor Hospital in Geneva, though both seasons increase the risk of a heart attack because extreme weather can lead to overexertion.

Towne compares snow shoveling to weightlifting and explains that muscles and blood vessels constrict when someone shovels in the cold. As a result of the constriction, blood pressure rises and the heart is forced to work harder. 

“If people have a heart condition, I don’t think they should be shoveling snow at all because of the increased risk,” he says.

Slow down Snow shoveling should be done at a slow pace for five to seven minutes at a time, with rest periods of two to three minutes, Towne says, noting one should drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.

To read the full story, pick up the latest issue of Kane County Magazine.