Billings Clinic warns of heart attack risks when shoveling snow - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Billings Clinic warns of heart attack risks when shoveling snow

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Billings Clinic hands out more than one hundred stickers at hardware stores across Billings to raise awareness about the health risks shoveling snow can pose. 

The stickers list the signs of a heart attack, urging people to get help if they are experiencing any of the symptoms. 

Kandis Albertson, supervisor of Billings Hardware wants to warn people after one of her employees suffered a heart attack after he shoveled snow off his driveway.

"He had been here shoveling and we asked him not to because we knew he wasn't feeling well. He went home saying he wasn't feeling well and shoveled his own driveway and a little while later had a heart attack," Albertson said.

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, a study found 11,000 people were hospitalized per year due to snow related injuries that include head injuries, back injuries and heart attacks.

 "The cold weather constricts your blood vessels and between that and the workload of doing the shoveling, it puts a lot of strain on your heart," said "Kierra Knox, a registered nurse  and chest pain coordinator at Billings Clinic. 

Knox also says most people might not attribute the symptoms they're experiencing to a heart attack but rather strain from shoveling. 

"It's really difficult to tell the difference which is why we encourage patients to call 911, especially if it's subtly different from the previous time they've done it," Knox adds.

Minimizing risks like preventing hypothermia, guarding against slips and knowing your health history are important to remember when shoveling snow.

"So patients who already have heart histories like heart failure or previous heart attack, we encourage them to take it slow. scoop smaller loads of snow, use smaller shovels that sort of thing," Knox said. "Make sure you're well hydrated. Stretch before hand. You know just don't do it all at once." 

Kandis also says the type of shovel that you're using plays a big role. 

"Number one a better shovel is going to be more sturdy and as you're going it's going to keep that snow in front of you and not kind of bending and letting snow go everywhere," Kandis adds.

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