Many of us are tempted to rush outside and shovel the snow off the driveway, but cardiologists at The University of Kansas Hospital say “Not so fast.”
Colder temperatures and the lack of activity most of us see over the winter months place extra demands on the human heart, so it’s important to stay alert to exertion warnings.
Among the early warning signs of overtaxing your heart are dizziness, extreme fatigue, feeling faint and in more serious cases, chest pains.
Even people in relatively good shape can be at risk during cold winter days.
“Cold weather and the lack of physical activity most of us see in the winter months can put a much greater strain on you quicker,” University of Kansas Hospital cardiologist Dr. Loren Berenbom said. “There is a great difference in the exertion level of the same exercise from outside, where it’s cold, to a heated indoor environment, like a gym.”
The dangers can be especially high for the elderly. Berenbom relates a classic scenario:
“There is that older guy who just won’t give up shoveling his driveway and sidewalk. He wants it done now, but doesn’t want to pay to have it done, or thinks no one else can do it right.
“He goes out and overexerts himself and the next thing you know, he’s in the hospital. You want to finish the job; you don’t want the job to finish you.”
An important key to keeping heart healthy is working up to those outdoor chores, such as snow shoveling. Your doctor can help you develop an exercise plan that can help get you in shape and have you heart healthy. It is especially important that people with known heart disease exercise only as part of a health program overseen by their physician.