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Doctors Warn About Dangers Of Shoveling Snow

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- With snow in the forecast for Thursday many of us will be shoveling out. The snow is expected to wet and heavy -- and that can be dangerous.

We haven't done much shoveling this winter, so it could be a bit of a shock to the system, especially going from Wednesday's record warm temperatures.

Doctors say the snow might look pretty and puffy, but once it starts piling up, getting it shoveled can be a challenge.

Heavy, wet snow is potentially the most dangerous kind to shovel.

"People don't realize how much weight it is, the extra execration, cold weather all add to the physiology stress," said Dr. Eric Stander with Hahnemann Hospital.

Stander says the most serious threat from snow shoveling is the increased risk for heart attacks.

"Unfortunately, we tend to see at least one to two heart attacks during a big snow storm," he said.

Shoveling-triggered heart events are more likely to happen to the elderly and people who are out of shape.

The other danger with shoveling heavy, wet snow is muscle strains, especially in the back.

"Most people bend and lift, and our back is the weak point putting a lot of torque when you bend over," said Dr. Stander.

It's better to let the knees do the bending and keep your back straight when shoveling.

With people gearing up for the first big snowstorm of the season, shovel selection is an important consideration.

"An ergonomic shovel is often the best because it can relieve some of the pressure from your back and then the type that you can push are very helpful," said Dr. Seth Podolsky.

Doctors say it's best to take your time shoveling, and, if you're a heart patient or any other health problems, you should let someone else do the shoveling for you.

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