Be careful with that snow shovel: Paramedics

With a fast and furious snowfall, Ottawa paramedics are reminding residents to be careful and shovel slowly.

Three men had heart attacks while outside shovelling six weeks ago on Dec. 14.

One was in his mid 40s and two were in their 70s, said paramedics spokesperson J.P. Trottier. They all survived.

Last winter, paramedics responded to four cases — all in one day — of a potentially deadly type of heart attack.

Those victims had also been shovelling at the time, which Trottier said places a tremendous burden on the heart. They also all survived.

In 1995, a study by U.S. researchers found the average heart rate of subjects shovelling snow was 175 beats per minute. The normal adult heart rate, at rest, is between 60 and 70 bpm.

People most susceptible to heart attacks typically have a history of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, Trottier said.

Ottawa paramedics are reminding citizens to:

– Go slow and take frequent breaks;

– know the symptoms of a heart attack: shortness of breath, chest pain (often described as tightness or a feeling of pressure on the chest) and nausea;

– call 911 if you experience these symptoms;

– get a yearly physical;

– ask your doctor if you’re in good condition to shovel snow;

– consider a private plowing service.

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