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Health officials warn of health risks during winter snow storm

Health officials warn residents of health risks while shoveling and snow blowing during the lake effect snow storm.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two people have died while shoveling snow during the lake effect snow storm hitting parts of Buffalo and Western New York. 

The storm began Thursday night and is expected to continue throughout the weekend. 

Some of the latest snowfall totals reached 66 inches in Orchard Park, and the snow continues to fall. 

Erie County officials gave an update on the snow storm and its impact in the area Friday afternoon, announcing the death of two men due to the storm. 

"We have confirmed two death associated with this storm. Two males who unfortunately have perished as a result of exertion having cardiac events associated with snow shoveling and snow blowing," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

Added Dr. Gale Burstein, the Erie County health commissioner: "It can be very, very dangerous for some individuals, people who have high blood pressure, people who have any type of cardiac history to go out and shovel the snow. Especially right now when the snow is so heavy because it's so wet."

Natalie Asbach, a local physician assistant, reminds those to not push their limit while the snow continues to fall. 

People who have a history of cardiac or lung disease, previous cardiac events, arrhythmia, high cholesterol or blood pressure should take extra precautions and make sure they are feeling well before attempting to shovel or snow blow.

"When they go out, they need to prepare like they are going out for exercise and whether that be snow blowing or shoveling, both are strenuous exercises. It increases our need for oxygen, which then pumps up our blood pressure and also increases our heart rate," Asbach said. 

Some early signs of cardiac issues, according to Asbach, while shoveling or snow blowing are: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Heart racing 
  • Chest discomfort or pain 

"Go inside, you need to warm up and sit down and make sure that those symptoms dissipate," Ashbach said. 

Keep up-to-date with the forecast and snowfall totals with 2 On Your Side here

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