How We Weathered the Storm

severe snow storm

North Shore-LIJ Studios
January 29, 2015
Blizzard Response

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WNBC
January 28, 2015
Snow Safety Tips

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North Shore-LIJ Public Relations
January 28, 2015
Treating Snow Shoveling Injuries: Ice or Heat?

Dr. Stephen Nicholas, Orthopedic Surgeon, Sports Medicine Specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital

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HealthDay
January 27, 2015
Don't Become a Blizzard Casualty

Dr. Robert Glatter, Emergency Physician, Lenox Hill Hospital

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HCPLive.com
January 27, 2015
Blizzard Fizzles, Hospitals Relieved

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North Shore-LIJ Public Relations
January 26, 2015
Ways To Get Through Upcoming Record Snowstorm

Dr. Alan Kaplan, Director, Emergency Medicine, Plainview Hospital & Dr. Michael Guttenberg, Director, Emergency Medicine, Forest Hills Hospital

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North Shore-LIJ Public Relations
January 26, 2015
Don’t Shovel Snow If You Have a Heart Condition

Dr. David Friedman, Chief, Heart Failure Services, Franklin Hospital

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WCBS
January 26, 2015
As Blizzard Strikes, Health Experts Warn of Heart Attack Threat From Shoveling Snow

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, Director of Women’s Heart Health

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The Wall Street Journal
January 26, 2015
The Health Risks of Shoveling Snow

Barry Root, Chairman, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Glen Cove Hospital

Shoveling your way out of a snowstorm is actually a big workout. And that means that shoveling large amounts of heavy, wet snow—such as the snowfall currently descending on the Northeast—can pose significant health risks, particularly with heart and back strain.

Cardiologists say shoveling snow places a significant burden on the heart, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. It is potentially risky, especially for people who don’t regularly exercise.

“For those at risk for heart disease and those that may not know they are at risk, shoveling snow can lead to or even cause a heart attack,” said Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

People without cardiovascular issues can safely shovel, but should try to reduce their efforts to about 80% of capacity, said Dr. Yancy. “Dial back your efforts about 20%, give yourself a break when you’re doing it and allow frequent stops.”

Avoid eating a heavy meal 30 to 60 minutes before or after shoveling as that places an extra load on the heart, Dr. Yancy said.

Experts say using a smaller shovel, or better yet a snowblower or thrower, is also best to avoid back or heart strain. For more advice, see our guide to high-tech help and shoveling strategies.

Randall Zusman, director of hypertension at Massachusetts General Hospital, said exposure to the cold itself can have an adverse effect on the heart. “If your hands are exposed to the cold, it produces a reflex that causes the arteries of the heart to constrict,” he said. This causes the blood supply to the heart to be reduced and potentially can cause an episode of angina, or chest discomfort, or even a heart attack.

Putting a scarf over your mouth to prevent breathing in too much cold air can help, said Lawrence Phillips, medical director of the cardiology outpatient offices at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, who said every year he sees people who come in after big snow storms who are newly diagnosed with heart disease.

Shoveling heavy snow can also strain the back and spine.

Barry Root, chairman of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Glen Cove Hospital in Glen Cove, N.Y., part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, said people with chronic back pain should avoid shoveling.

He suggests pushing the snow rather than lifting it, when at all possible, and bending the knees, rather than using the back. “Push it out of the way, as if you’re pushing it with a broom,” he said. Some shovels have a bend in the handle that requires less bending, which can help, he said.

Alan Hilibrand, a Philadelphia orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the spine, suggests lifting small amounts of snow and keeping the weight of the snow and shovel close to the body.

“The farther away the weight is, the harder the back muscles have to work, because the more that weight is pulling you forward,” said Dr. Hilibrand, who is a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He suggests shoveling in 20-minute increments and shoveling on both the right and left side.

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North Shore-LIJ Public Relations
January 23, 2015
Where Should You Go If You Have a Weather-Related Emergency?

Dr. Jason D’Amore, Emergency Medicine Physician, Emergency Medicine Research Director, North Shore University Hospital

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North Shore-LIJ Public Relations
January 23, 2015
Keeping Feet Warm In Winter

Dr. William Spielfogel, Chair, Podiatry, Lenox Hill Hospital

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North Shore-LIJ Public Relations
January 23, 2015
Protect Your Skin Indoors and Outside In Cold Weather

Dr. Priya Nayyar, Dermatologist, North Shore-LIJ Health System

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