As Snow Melts, Beware Heart Attack When Shoveling (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose - 21Alive

January 8, 2014 Updated Jan 8, 2014 at 7:21 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Something you need to look out for in this weather is your own health.

At least six people have died in central Indiana from weather-related causes, including heart attacks while shoveling.

And one person in Allen County died from a heart attack after shoveling snow.

The Parkview Heart Institute saw three heart attack patients Tuesday night alone after they shoveled.

Fortunately, they survived.

But with the warmer temperatures on the way, the rest of that snow is going to start to melt and get very heavy.

Cold air means your blood pressure can spike by as much as 20 points, because the blood flow in your skin constricts to keep heat at your core.

Plus when it's cold, you don't breathe as deeply, so you have to breathe more frequently, which creates more problems.

Your heart rate automatically increases if you get either excited or about the snow.

That sets up a chain reaction that stresses your system because of your heart's demands for oxygen.

“Most commonly, what we see is patients that have heart problems or lung problems that would probably be okay if they were at a moderate level. But they get anxious about moving just one more drift out of the way or just getting something cleared off. Maybe do a little too much,” says Dr. Roy Roberts, medical director of the Parkview Heart Institute.

“It's very heavy, I'd say. Yeah, crumbly is a good word. Luckily someone did my sidewalks the last couple days for me with a snowblower, so I haven't had to do too much out here today. But, yeah, it's pretty heavy. You're breathing hard. I guess, so, yeah,” says shoveler Colin Thompson.

Shortness of breath is something to be concerned about, especially if it comes with two other major symptoms: chest pain and extreme fatigue.

Whether you're a man or a woman, you cannot ignore those things.

If they don't subside after you go inside and get warm, you need to call 911.

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