Doctors see uptick in ER visits from snow removal related injuries

SALT LAKE CITY -- Doctors working in the emergency room at the University of Utah Hospital report an uptick in visits during winter weather — and they’re not just talking about car wreck injuries. 

Dr. Mike Morgan said he’s seen an increase in people coming in for heart attacks after this past week's major snow storm.

“You’re out there exerting yourself and so that can put a little bit of strain on the heart,” said Dr. Morgan. “ When it’s cold outside you tend to have a little more clapping down of your blood vessels that can decrease temporarily some blood flow to the heart.”

Having a heart attack is something David Watson, a Cottonwood Heights resident, said he worries about — especially because his driveway is more like a ski slope.

“If you slip on this thing, you’re gone,” said Watson.

Calling this past snowstorm one of the biggest he’s seen in the twenty or so years of living here, Watson said clearing it has been just as big of a task. 

“I try not to use any kind of shovel where I’m reaching from the side,” said Watson, explaining while the snow has piled up, he’s making sure the pressure on his own muscles and back hasn’t."

“You got to do a snowblower,” said Watson. “I also use some wide pushers that are little more different than most people. I’m not turning sideways, I’m pushing straight on.”

Using the right gear can make all the difference, but when that gear fails, Dr. Morgan said to make sure you see a professional before trying to fix it yourself.

“Don’t reach inside your snowblower, that seems to be common sense but people still make that mistake,” said Dr. Morgan. 

But even those who aren’t using the snowblower can be susceptible to injuries. 

Sylvia Bennion has lived in Cottonwood Heights for 10 years. This past week she fell twice on the ice underneath the snow, and her husband was hurt as well.

“He got a hernia, so that’s why he’s in the house not feeling too well,” said Bennion. 

Good shoes and warm clothing, while working out in the snow, and always watching out for snowplows, are all recommendations Dr. Morgain said can help you stay safe for the next storm rolling in.

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