How To Avoid Heart Attack When Shoveling Snow

Several deaths in the epic Northeast snowstorm have been blamed on heart attacks while shoveling snow. INSIDE EDITION has tips to help keep your shoveling safe.

Across the Northeast, people continue to shovel their way out from under a massive dumping of snow, and in some cases it's proving deadly.

The epic snowstorm has claimed 13 lives so far, many believed to be the result of people having heart attacks while shoveling.

We interviewed Dr. John Corbelli, a cardiologist with the VA hospital in Buffalo.

INSIDE EDITION's Les Trent asked, "All the years that I've lived here, I don't think I've seen this many deaths attributed to cardiac arrest. Why?"

Dr. Corbelli said, "Shoveling is a lot of work. There's a lot of muscles involved. The snow has been heavy, and even for Buffalo, the snow has been deep. So I think people maybe just went out and dived out in the snow, and maybe just weren't thoughtful enough. When you go out in the cold, your bronchial tubes and your lungs constrict. If you've got lung disease, COPD, emphysema, you're a smoker, or heart disease, that can all cause strain on your lungs and your heart."

He also says there's a right way and a wrong way to shovel snow.

Demonstrating how to shovel, he told Trent, "The snow is deep so it's nicer to go on the top rather than in the full snow which is going to be obviously heavier. Bend your legs, like this, and lift up your legs rather than going like this (lifting) with your back."

As if this one-two punch of a winter storm wasn't enough, there are new dangers on the horizon. Roofs are collapsing all over from the extreme weight from all that snow.

People are going to have to get outside at some point and get the snow off of their roofs. But be warned, climbing up on a roof to shovel snow should be considered extremely dangerous.

Instead, experts say you should have a roof rake like this one and get the snow off from ground level.