Health risk and dangers of snow shoveling

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WICHITA, Kansas– Doctors at Via Christi Hospital say overworking yourself when it comes to snow shoveling could cost you your life if you don’t know your limits.

Emergeny room doctors know they’re in for a busy next couple of days.

“With every snow storm we definitely see a person every hour, every other hour,” said Dr. Howard Chang, Via Christi Hosital on St. Francis.

Picking up a shovel to clear out the snow from your driveway can be dangerous in the bitter cold.

“I don’t think people are used to doing that kind of activity and then they have to clear their driveway just to get their car out so they’re forced to do this strenuous activity that they’re not used too,” said Dr. Chang. “They don’t realize the kind of toll it can take on your heart or your body.”

Dr. Chang is advising folks with pre-existing heart conditions to be careful.

“If you start having chest pain then you definitely need to stop what you’re doing and take a breather,” said Dr. Chang.

Keep in mind that any feeling of chest pain, discomfort, tightness, pressure, or burning sensation are all red flags.

“You worry about cardiac issues as well you don’t want someone shoveling the snow in the driveway and getting a heart attack,” said Dr. Chang.

Chang said even if you have a healthy heart you want to make sure you’re physically able to handle the workload and to keep an eye out for the slippery ground.

“Always lift with your legs,” said Dr. Chang. “People always injure their back by lifting with their back.”

The doctor also recommends using a buddy system saying its best to have someone check on you every 10 to 15 minutes just in case something goes wrong.

“Sometimes every so often you have somebody shoveling now and they slip and fall,” said Dr. Chang. “They get stuck out there and nobody realizes that they’re outside and they get hypothermia as well.”

KSN wanted to find out how many deaths in Sedgwick County have been related to snow shoveling, but we’re told by the county they do not have a way to track those numbers.

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