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Entries in blizzard (2)

Wednesday
Dec292010

Snow Shoveling May Put Hearts at Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Americans living on the Eastern seaboard break out the snow shovels, doctors are telling them to take special care, and have "great respect" for the dangers of blizzard conditions, both during and after the storm.

Doctors say slips and falls are the most common injuries caused by snow and ice seen in the ER, but they also warn of heart dangers that may come with a snowfall.

"The risk of heart attack is increased by the combination of heavy, upper body exertion and cold weather encountered while shoveling snow," said Dr. William Abraham, director of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University.  "People, especially those at risk for coronary heart disease, should avoid heavy exertion in cold weather conditions."

There are two major points that can put people at risk for heart problems when it's cold.

"For one, most people don't realize that, when their hands get cold, it causes blood vessels in the heart to constrict and reduce the blood supply to their heart," said Dr. Randy Zusman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center.

So, if a blood vessel is 20 percent to 30 percent blocked, it can become up to 70 percent to 80 percent blocked due to the constricting walls in the cold weather conditions, said Zusman.

And once the shovel comes out of the garage, things can often get much worse.

"Lifting heavy snow is like heavy weight lifting," said Zusman.  "It puts a strain on the heart, and the blood pressure and heart rate go up in response to it."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

Beware of Slips and Falls, Frostbite and Hypothermia, Doctors Warn

Photo Courtesy - Chris McGrath/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Dr. Gabriel Wilson, associate medical director at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, worked his emergency room shift until 3 a.m. Monday. He cared for three people who sustained wrist fractures, one person with an ankle fracture and two who had received blows to the head. Every injury stemmed from slips on ice and snow.

"These are the typical snow-related injuries, and the only thing one can do, other than being careful walking in the snow, is to wear padded gloves, jackets and hats, which may cushion the fall," said Wilson.

Winter weather conditions have gripped most of the Northeast, causing travel delays and cancellations galore. As the blizzard tapers off and people are left to re-book flights and trek through piles of snow, doctors warn people to take special care.

Dr. Richard Bradley, associate professor of emergency medicine and chief of EMS and disaster medicine at University of Texas Medical School at Houston, reiterated the importance of keeping warm during the plummeting temperatures.

"The onset of hypothermia can be very difficult to detect," said Bradley. "We lose a lot of people every year from it, because people often don't realize they're becoming hypothermic."

Bradley said people often chalk up hypothermia symptoms to feeling sleepy or fatigued. "But as the hypothermia worsens, people realize even less that they're getting colder," said Bradley. "We see this a lot in people who are alone and don't have anyone to say, 'Hey, you don't look so good.'"

Dr. Hersch Leon Pachter, a professor and chairman of the department of surgery at New York University School of Medicine, said hypothermic patients who come into the emergency room are often homeless.

"A lot of people off the street come in with hypothermia," said Pachter. "They're sleeping outside and being exposed to the elements."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio