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Shoveling snow can increase your risk of heart attack

Shoveling snow can take a toll on your body – particularly your heart.

The American Heart Association said the strenuous activity can actually increase your chances of having a heart attack.

And experts say there are some people who should never even pick up a shovel.

If you're shoveling snow, and you get pressure in your chest; stop. That could be your heart."

- Dr. Marc Gillinov, The Cleveland Clinic

“People who have coronary artery disease should not perform strenuous shoveling of snow,” said Dr. Marc Gillinov of the Cleveland Clinic. “It can trigger a heart attack. It’s hard work.”

Gillinov said the cold temperatures also contribute to your risk, because it can cause arteries to tighten and increase blood pressure.

Other heart attack factors include: high cholesterol, peripheral arterial disease and age.

If you think you are having a heart attack, or are experiencing shortness of breath, discomfort in your left arm or chest pain, you should seek medical attention immediately.

"A lot of people think it's got to be this sharp, knife-like pain,” Gillinov said. “It could just be pressure. In fact, the most common description of heart-related chest pain is pressure. People might even say it feels like an elephant is sitting on (your) chest. If you're shoveling snow, and you get pressure in your chest; stop. That could be your heart."

And – if you have heart attack risk factors, put down that shovel and stay inside.

For more information, log onto AmericanHeart.org.