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"Heart attack...Me?" Almanac of Arlington Heights 2011 Winter addition
by Kevin O'Hara D.C.
Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man ~ Benjamin Franklin
Well here we are again is the clutches of another Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect winter and you may have noticed the blanket of white stuff outside your window this morning and thought (as I have thought) not again, my aching back needs a vacation. Someplace warm, emerald green water with the sun shinning and the white sand toasty. Oh, does that sound good… But alas, that is not going to happen any time soon so lets get out there and get the driveway shoveled. But before you get motivated lets talk about something serious. Heart attack. Did you know that when winter weather drops an inch or more of snow on us and the temperature drops below 20 degrees the death rate from heart attack triples among men 35 to 49 years of age? What? Triples? Yes it does. I could go into a whole bunch of statistics that prove the point so just take my word for it. Lets take a look at why. Take an average shovel load, say 15 pounds, and move it 15 times a minute. You just moved 225 pounds of snow sunshine. Congrats. Now keep going for ten minutes…Holy cats…2,250 pounds?…Yep, just over a ton. Shoveling snow is a tremendous work out. So working out is good for me, right? Yes it is but not once a year, especially at that intensity. Strenuous activity increases your heart rate and increases your blood pressure. The body's natural defense against cold is to constrict arteries and blood vessels. Why? Too keep you warm. Now add them all together. Heart pounding, blood pressure cranked, arteries and veins smaller…do you get it yet? Now lets add some other seemingly benign factors. High cholesterol fills up arteries making them still smaller. Nice cup of coffee? More constriction of the arteries. Add a morning smoke. You guessed it, more constriction. So the cold weather, out of shape (couch potato) high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoker. Bad news. Okay, I get that the driveway won't shovel itself as my father was so fond of reminding me, but you have to take some precautions. Dress warm, warm up, walk up and down the driveway a few times before you start. Take a break every ten to fifteen minutes. Don't smoke. Don't caffeinate. Keep hydrated…Lots of water. Chest pain? Stop. Arm pain? Stop. Shoulder pain, neck pain, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, chest feels like an elephant sitting on it? STOP! Seek medical attention! Especially if you think you're having a heart attact. Use some common sense. Take this seriously. Better safe than sorry. So now a blurb on shoveling itself. Save your back. Use the right shovel, lightweight push style. Push the snow don't don't throw it. Bend at the knees, not your back. If you have to lift the snow use your legs with a straight back and for your own sake don't twist and throw it. Be careful of ice, wear proper footwear, take frequent breaks and don't hold your breath if you bend down. Let me know how it goes.
I would like to wish you and all your loved ones a peaceful, joyous and prosperous new year.
your Arlington Heights / Mount Prospect chiropractor