How to Shovel Snow Without Having a Heart Attack

There's more to worry about this winter than a runny nose and slippery roads.

— -- Fluffy, white snow may be the stuff of holiday greeting cards but, to cardiologists, it's a heart attack waiting to happen.

That's why they call it "heart attack snow," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. It's heavy and people try to clear it too quickly for their own good.

"It’s a misnomer that people believe having an alcoholic beverage will warm them up," he said. "It puts the heart at more risk."

According to the American Heart Association, people also shouldn't eat a big meal beforehand, and, if possible, they should use a smaller shovel to avoid lifting heavy weight.

Yancy suggested certain people skip shoveling altogether.

Shoveling may be associated with heart attacks every year, but it's not the only winter heart attack hazard, Yancy said.

Stress from the holidays and changes in daylight contribute to heart attacks in the winter -- even for people who travel south for the cold months, he said.

And people are most at-risk for heart attacks when they wake up in the morning because their hormone levels are different and their blood is "stickier," Yancy said.

"We should all realize that, over the winter season, we're just more vulnerable," Yancy said. "Take it easy."