YAKIMA, Wash. -- Bill McCann calls himself an amateur snow shoveler, but at 55-years-old, he made sure he was extra careful Tuesday when he shoveled.
"I didn’t overexert myself, I just went at a good steady pace and it might’ve been too slow for somebody else, but it was the right pace for me," said McCann.
The reason behind his being so cautious?
"I actually had a heart attack five years ago. It wasn’t the Charlie horse to the chest, big pressure, pain. I just felt weird," he said.
McCann says he remembers feeling a faint, scattered, burning sensation across his chest, and had to undergo open heart surgery.
Although, he says his heart attack wasn’t caused by shoveling the snow, Dr. Kesav Parvataneni at the Astria Heart Institute says it’s a very common cause of heart attacks during the winter.
"It’s probably one of the most stressful things you can do for your body. These are conditions that Olympic athletes really train under, and so you can imagine the amount of stress that you're putting your body under," he said.
Parvataneni says heart attack symptoms vary from person to person, but people typically experience sudden chest pain and pressure, shortness of breath, and an inability to keep up with activities that would otherwise be normal.
He says if you’re not physically fit, then shoveling your snow out of your driveway is out of the question.
To avoid this, he says to simply ask for help.
Parvataneni says, "If you’re fortunate enough to have a snow blower or something, that might be okay, but if you’re considering physically shoveling the driveway with a shovel, be very cautious with that decision, and maybe consider asking for some help, instead of putting yourself at risk."