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Deaths in Renfrew County highlight risks of shovelling snow

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Shovelling snow is a regular part of Canadian winters, but it can also be dangerous.

Last Saturday's snowstorm proved to be deadly in Renfrew County, with two individuals dying from cardiac arrest after shovelling heavy, wet snow.

Devon Dean with Renfrew County Paramedics said on Saturday one of them was a man out shovelling some residential sidewalks near a business who collapsed.

In Ottawa, paramedics responded to a man suffering a cardiac arrest in Manotick. Marc-Antoine Deschamps with Ottawa Paramedics said, "On Saturday morning, around 9:20, paramedics responded to Manotick after a male cleaning his driveway with a snowblower was found in cardiac arrest by his neighbour."

Paramedics successfully revived the man, rushing him to the hospital in critical condition. Shoveling snow, especially for individuals with heart conditions, can be dangerous.

University of Ottawa Heart Institute physiotherapist Marc Laflamme says, "Every year, with the first snowfall or subsequent snowfalls, the Heart Institute is a very, very busy place."

Experts advise using proper form while shovelling to prevent injury. Always bend at the knees, keeping the back as upright as possible. Use smaller shovels so that each scoop isn't as heavy.

Jean Maurice, an Ottawa resident, says Saturday's storm cleanup was challenging.

“I do take breaks,” says Maurice, “Like the last storm we had, it took me like three hours to clean."

A 2017 study by the Canadian Medical Association revealed that shovelling heavy snow can exceed 75 per cent of the maximum heart rate, increasing the risk, especially for older men.

Deschamps says if you feel any type of pain or pressure in the chest while shovelling, don’t wait to call for help.

"If at any time you start to experience chest pain or shortness of breath, you have to stop immediately and call 911."

 --With files from CTV News Ottawa's Dylan Dyson.

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