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Why Does Shoveling Snow Increase the Risk of a Heart Attack?

shoveling snow heart attack

The risk of shoveling snow may seem silly, but it is an activity that can lead to a heart attack or death. As winter arrives, it’s worth noting that about 11,500 people in the United States are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to snow shoveling. 

On average, 100 of those injuries are fatal, generally heart attacks. Many seniors who are in great health or even not so great health live in climates where shoveling snow is just a way of life each winter. They may not realize that it actually can be quite dangerous as we get older.

The combination of cold temperatures (which can cause blood vessels to constrict, decreasing your blood supply) and the strenuous exertion (which can quickly increase your heart rate and blood pressure) raises the risk for a heart attack shoveling snow. The quantity and duration of a snowfall seem to increase the chances of injury and death

Dr. Nathalie Auger of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center led a study showing that the more it snowed in Quebec, the more men had heart attacks. Researchers suspect shoveling snow was the link.

“It’s quite difficult physical activity,” she said. “It can happen quite suddenly at the beginning of the season.”

Shoveling Snow and Heart Attack

Snow shoveling heart attack

Snow shoveling is a risk, particularly for those with heart disease. Trudging out in the snow increases oxygen demand while your arteries are tightening up in the cold. It’s sort of a double-whammy.

Other cold-weather facts can impact and cause a heart attack while shoveling snow. Winter cold and other seasonal factors raise the risk of heart attacks and more. It’s an issue whether you’re in freezing Alaska or sunny Arizona.

Studies show that cardiac deaths begin climbing around Thanksgiving, then peak early in the year and decrease when warmer weather comes along. You see, the colder weather makes arteries constrict. This can decrease blood flow and make it harder for oxygen to be delivered in the body. The cold can also increase blood clots in many people causing heart attack while shoveling snow. Of course, this is all happening during Flu season, which can also lead to heart attacks in some folks.

Who’s Responsible for Shoveling Snow?

If you are a homeowner, removing snow from your property is your responsibility. Your city may have a snow removal ordinance that requires shoveling within 24-48 hours. If you don’t comply with the ordinance and clear the snow within the specified timeline, you may need to pay a fine. So, understand the ordinance clearly and follow it. 

If you are a landlord or renter, however, you need to define the responsibility clearly. Tenants in a single-family home are responsible for snow removal, but it falls on the property owner or manager in multi-family rental homes with common walkways. 

What Are the Risks of Snow-Covered Roofs?

Shoveling snow and heart attack

Nothing can beat the charm of snow-covered roofs, but there’s danger lurking in their beauty. Snow weighs heavily and becomes heavier when ice, sleet, or rain adds to it. Do you know that two feet of snow on your average roof size can weigh nearly 19 toms or 38,000 pounds? It adds extra stress to the roof, making it vulnerable to collapse. 

The added weight on the pole buildings for an extended time can result in weakened bottom chords, webs, and gusset plates. Timely snow shoveling, adding knee bracing, and shoring up the bottom chord can help. 

But before you attempt shoveling the snow, understand the dangers of this task. Sometimes, your weight on the roof can trigger a collapse faster than anticipated. Also, a wrong footing in the ice can send you spiraling down the slippery roof. A snow rake with an expandable handle is a better option to clear off the snow from the ground. Also, look for a snow shoveling ice slip insurance. 

Are There Other Options Available to Seniors When It Comes to Shoveling Snow?

If you want to avoid getting a heart attack by snow shoveling, the first thing that comes to mind to me is to ask your children or family members (if they live close-by) to help you out with this. Typically a younger family member (child, grandchild, niece, nephew, etc.) would be more than happy to help you. After all, look at how much you have done for them!

Another great option if your family doesn’t live close-by is to hire someone. This can be expensive if you go with a professional plowing service, but plenty of young students are always looking for ways to make extra money. Websites like nextdoor.com are great sources when looking for help with this type of project. Or ask around with your neighbors for recommendations. Who knows, one of these kids could become your favorite leaf raking helper come fall!

Another option will be to purchase a snowblower if either of these options isn’t available. While you are still risking extended periods of being in the cold, which has its own risk factors, you are not combining it with the strenuous activity of shoveling, sometimes heavy snow. It can help prevent heart attack while shoveling snow.

Don’t Become a Snow Shoveling and Heart Attack Statistic!

Heart attack shoveling snow

If you still insist on shoveling snow yourself (or if a loved one does), please follow these tips:

  • Do some warm-up exercises before shoveling
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Push the snow out of the way rather than lift it
  • Use an ergonomically designed shovel that reduces bending

Here at Insurance for Final Expense, we want all of you to stay safe and healthy in all situations. The statistics are staggering for this seemingly innocent activity, shoveling some snow. Unfortunately, this is a real problem that we see in both men and women in the winter (although predominantly in men).

It’s so important also that children recognize when their parents may be pushing themselves too hard. They still themselves see them as superhumans (so do we), but it is also important to understand how to care for your elderly parent. Remember, show shoveling and heart attack are a dangerous combination for them. 

Why Do We Feel Strongly About Having Burial Insurance in Place?

Heart attack snow shoveling

It’s one of those things… You or a loved one could be as healthy as a horse, and due to the colder climate, its effects on the body and a seemingly routine activity, a tragic effect could ensue.

The fact is that it is far better to have final expense burial insurance in place before something like this happens. The truth is that you should always have this in place prior to having a heart attack while shoveling snow.  Really, what if you are just shoveling the snow on your walkway and suffer a heart attack? It’s awful! But MOST people put things off, and the carriers we deal with have already considered this and will still offer all folks, full coverage.

With term life insurance, you are not going to get approved the same day.  Usually, you agree to a policy with an agent. A few weeks go by, a physical with blood taking is done by a medic, and then you wait for the insurance company to tell you if you are approved.

It is a nerve-wracking experience.  Most people hate doing it. Let alone think about it.  Again, the truth revealed, with these type policies, as many as half of the written policies end up getting rejected.

Final Expense Burial Insurance is different.  You get approved the same day.  Very little underwriting if any is done because the insurance companies realize your body is older, and you are not going to be 100% healthy.  And yes, that includes having a heart attack by shoveling snow.

Why Shouldn’t You Put off Getting Final Expense Burial Coverage?

It seems so final, so difficult to even consider.

The problem is, coverage costs a lot more as you get older and older.  If Final Expense coverage was sold at a flat rate for all, you could simply wait until the day before you die to purchase it.

It doesn’t work that way.  You must be pro-active and buy now vs. later not for our sake, but your sake, so the price is far less.  This is not a sales technique; it’s just a logical thing from the insurance companies’ point of view.

They are willing to take a chance with you and cover you now, but you move closer to passing every day, rates will go up if you wait.

A Chat with Your Children about Final Expense Insurance Can Help

Many families don’t care to talk about it, but as my Grampa always said… “Death is as much of a part of life as life itself.” We all have to come to grips with losing the ones we love the most at some point. We will also have to know that those who love us the most will find themselves in the same spot.

Remember, they care about and love you so much. They don’t want you in life to be burdened by the financial costs of your passing. Many children purchase final expense insurance for their parents, especially if the covered is on a fixed income and can’t quite afford it.

In the meantime, whatever you choose to do, call us or fill out the free online quote on this page. In the meantime… put the snow shovel in the shed and ask for help. We may not be able to shovel your snow, but we can help you in many other ways!

Snow shoveling ice slip insurance

Feel free to use the Quote Tool on our website to see what is available to you

If you need help with a guaranteed issue or final expense insurance, it would be our honor to assist you. Please call us at 1-800-400-8319. If you would rather that we call you, just fill out the quote form on this page, and a licensed agent will be in touch with you promptly.