Penn Heart and Vascular

Penn Heart and Vascular Update

Friday, January 3, 2014

Before You Shovel Snow, Know the Signs of Heart Attack

Shoveling snow is a strenuous exercise that can put undue strain on the heart. Factor in cold air, which constricts the blood vessels and increases blood pressure, and you have a dangerous combination for people with coronary artery disease or other forms of heart disease. So before you go shovel your walkway or let a loved one shovel their own, take a few moments to review these heart attack symptoms.

Heart attack signs that can appear in men and women

  1. Chest pressure or pain – this usually lasts more than a few minutes and can come and go
  2. Ache or soreness radiating through the back, jaw, throat, or arm – while your upper body may be aching for the shoveling itself, you should seek medical attention if the soreness is in conjunction with other heart attack symptoms
  3. Anxiety – people who have had heart attacks sometimes describe having felt panicked for no apparent reason

Women may not feel chest pain when having a heart attack.

What to do if you have heart attack symptoms while shoveling

Acting quickly in response to heart attack symptoms can save lives. If you feel like you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.

If you see someone who exhibits symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away and remain with the person.

Try to keep them calm, and have them sit or lie down. If the person stops breathing, you or someone else who is qualified should perform CPR immediately.

The 911 operator will assist you with CPR until the emergency medical team arrives.

Knowing your personal risk of a heart attack, symptoms, and what to do if you or a loved one has a heart attack can save a life.

If you have questions or concerns about your heart or your health, talk to the experts at Penn Medicine. For more than 250 years, we’ve helped people live longer, healthier lives.

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