Health experts warn Portlanders of ‘heart attack’ snow

Health experts are warning people with underlying heart conditions to be careful

Wintry Storm
Jim Paulson, of Sioux Falls, shovels part of his driveway before using the snow blower to clear the rest during the first snow of the season Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Sioux Falls. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Many Portland residents likely spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning shoveling snow, and they probably have more to do.

But health experts are warning people with underlying heart conditions to be careful. All that activity could cause issues.

On the East Coast, snow like what fell in Portland this week is called “heart attack” snow.

Wet snow that blanketed the Portland metro this week was thick and heavy, and that can make shoveling it especially difficult.

It’s strenuous work, and people with an underlying heart condition could actually trigger a heart attack if they’re not careful. That’s why it’s called “heart attack” snow.

The cold can cause arteries to constrict rather than dilate, and this means the heart doesn’t get enough blood flow.

Pile on the exertion from shoveling snow piles when people can become short of breath, and this causes a serious problem.

The best advice? Doctors advise warming up before shoveling, like one would before going to a workout. They also advise taking breaks and to take any heart medication before shoveling.

And of course, if someone has had a recent heart procedure, they should leave the shoveling to a neighbor or family member.

To find out when the snow will melt away, click here. And for forecasts on the go, download the PDX Weather App.