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Keeping Your Heart Healthy While Shoveling Snow

EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) -- Many Minnesotans spent their Saturday digging out after a winter storm dropped more than a foot of snow in some parts of the state.

But as you shovel this winter, the American Heart Association is warning of the risks to your health.

"I have a snow blower that I use mostly this morning then the close areas I use my trusted shovel here," Eagan resident Larry Disher said.

Disher and his neighbor Ben Weimart dusted off their trusted shovels Saturday in Eagan to shovel 18 inches of snow from their driveways.

"It's a workout. But it's okay to get a workout in every once in a while," Weimart said.

The hard work of lifting the first heavy snow of season is what worries cardiologists, like Dr. Peter Eckman, who also serves as board president for the local American Heart Association division.

"It's lifting heavy loads in cold weather and that level of exertion leads to a mismatch in the level of blood that can be delivered to the heart," Dr. Eckman said.

He said which leaves people more prone to heart attacks or other health issues, especially for those with underlying conditions.

The American Heart Association urges people shoveling to take frequent breaks and familiarize themselves with the warning signs of a heart attack which include:

  • Chest discomfort.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body including pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Though COVID-19 patients have pushed hospitals to the brink, Dr. Eckman said heart issues should be treated as an emergency.

"I think it's important to listen to your body, take breaks and if you develop symptoms don't delay, time is of the essence," Dr. Eckman said.

For more information on ways you can reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, visit

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