It's fair to say emergency room doctors have a different take on snowstorms based on the flow of patients they see on snowy days.
“What we’re seeing right now, especially as that big snow comes down, is that oftentimes people don’t realize that shoveling the snow for example can actually be quite a workout for your heart, “ 9NEWS medical expert Dr. Comilla Sasson said. “There’s some data that shows that this time of year when people go out – they may not realize necessarily that they have underlying heart disease – so they may go out and start shoveling, they can end up having heart attacks and even sudden death.”
Dr. Sasson says men older than 40 and women older than 50 are typically at higher risk of having underlying heart disease that hasn't yet been recognized by a doctor.
She says it's important to seek help immediately if snow shoveling leads to dizziness, light-headedness or chest pain.
Colder temperatures can also cause health problems, especially for people who have respiratory issues, such as asthma and emphysema.
“The cold can be pretty brutal on their lungs,” Sasson said. “So they can have issues with a COPD flair for example, or they might have their asthma kick up because of that cold as well.”
And of course, just walking outside on snowy days can end with a trip to the emergency room.
"It's very slick out there right now,” Sasson said. “Breaking a hip can be devastating for folks who are a little bit older, and can sometimes actually lead to death as well. So, folks need to be really, really careful when they go out and make sure that it's not slippery – that there's no underlying ice while they're going out and shoveling that snow – seeing a ton of slips and falls right now, and of course that can lead to broken bones."