With heavy snow in WNY, doctors warn of shoveling health dangers

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The heavy snow that hit Western New York Thursday can be a pain — literally. Doctors says they’re seeing more people in the emergency room at the Erie County Medical Center due to back or head injuries. They say shoveling this snow can cause even more health issues.

With so much snow covering driveways and sidewalks across Western New York Friday, Dr. Samuel Cloud says its bringing more people to the emergency room at ECMC.

“From the sliding and falling we see a lot of fractures, back injuries, head injuries, people sliding down their icy steps,” said Dr. Samuel Cloud, director of the Emergency department at ECMC.

This heavy snow is not only a pain to drive or walk in, but an even bigger pain to shovel — literally.

“I also of course see people who develop chest pain with snow shoveling,” said Dr. Cloud.

Dr. Cloud says shoveling can unveil health issues most people may not know they even have.

“Snow shoveling can unmask cardiac disease and can cause heart attacks. So, what I always tell patients is to listen to your body,” said Dr. Cloud.

According to cardiologist John Canty Jr. at the University at Buffalo, snow shoveling can be more strenuous than exercising on a treadmill. He says in a statement:“It’s particularly straining on the heart because it is usually a sudden stress, is performed in the cold and primarily consists of lifting a heavy weight. As a result, blood pressure and heart rate can increase more than other forms of physical activity.”-Dr. John Canty Jr., Cardiologist at University at Buffalo

Canty says the risk of someone suffering a heart attack is low, but both doctors agree it’s higher in people with existing health issues.

“If somebody that’s not used to exercising doesn’t really push your body physically or you’re if somebody that has diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure you really want to be careful and listen to your body,” said Dr. Cloud.

Doctors say if you’re going to shovel snow dress warmly, stay hydrated and avoid eating meals before going right out to shovel or snowplow.

“If somebody who can shovel for you, if you have children or a neighbor, then I would, I mean we’re the city of good neighbors I would lean on them,” said Dr. Cloud.

Doctors say it’s important for everyone to pay attention to any new or unusual symptoms while shoveling such as chest pain or severe shortness of breath.

So far Friday, AMR ambulance says it hasn’t had any cardiac emergency calls related to snow shoveling.

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