Snow Plowing Risky for Senior Citizens

By: Landon Cassman Email
By: Landon Cassman Email

Tuyen Ngo spent more than an hour chipping and scraping ice up and down his 78-year-old parents' driveway. Ngo said he passes by his parents' house every day, and feels more at ease now that the walkways are clear.

"My dad sometimes shovels snow when it's lighter and he's feeling better. But most the time, at his age, I kind of don't like him out in the cold, heavy snow shoveling."

Just this past week, three elderly people died from heart attacks while shoveling snow in Winnebago County.

SwedishAmerican Hospital Dr. John Underwood said these deaths are common in the winter. He said the cold temperatures mixed with a high level of physical effort can be a shock to our cardiovascular system.

"My primary suggestion is hire the neighbor kid, you know," said Underwood. "They want the money, they're young and healthy. So realistically if you're not physically fit, this is not a good time to be doing vigorous physical activity."

Underwood said he commonly sees cardiac arrest occurring in people over 40. 46-year-old Ngo said having a heart attack is the last thing on his mind today.

"I go skiing up north when it's like ten, fifteen below. So I exert myself pretty heavily. So this is pretty light work, so it's not too bad."

Doctors say the more we pay attention to our heart health, the better chance we have to survive.

Dr. Underwood said though these types of deaths occur every winter, it's unusual for three to happen in one week.

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