A joint release by the Ottawa Paramedic Service and the Heart Institute

January 19, 2022

As we are currently receiving more snow, we remind residents that activities linked to snow shovelling come with some risks for many people, and that medical emergencies can be prevented. This additional reminder comes as, over the course of a five-hour window during Monday’s snowstorm, Ottawa paramedics responded to eight separate emergency calls involving patients clearing snow.

Between 1100 hrs and 1600 hrs on Monday, January 17th, paramedics responded to eight different calls for patients experiencing symptoms such as chest pain; discomfort; acute shortness of breath; cardiac palpitations; sudden onset of dizziness; weakness; and some even experienced a temporary loss of consciousness. In each case, the individuals, primarily men, were clearing snow either manually or with the use of a snowblower.

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute urges residents to take caution when shovelling snow to prevent a serious cardiac event.

Those with a family history of heart disease or known risk factors should avoid physical overexertion. If you are going to shovel snow, do so safely by following tips such as warming up, and avoid lifting the shovel too high; push the snow to the side rather than lifting it. Find more advice in the Heart Institute’s Physical Activity Guide for cardiac patients.