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ALTON, Ill. - A 66-year-old Alton man died Thursday morning after suffering a heart attack while removing snow from his sidewalk.

According to the Madison County Coroner's Office, Carl Walker was outside his home in the 300 block of Lindenwood Boulevard removing snow with his snow blower. He became short of breath and went inside; Walker's wife called 911 for help.

Walker taken to St. Anthony's Hospital and diagnosed with a myocardial infarction (heart attack). During treatment, Walker went into cardiac arrest and died.

Funeral arrangements for Carl Walker are still pending.

The coroner's office offers the following tips regarding snow shoveling:

Before You Shovel Snow

Talk to your doctor before you take on this task of snow shoveling.

Avoid shoveling immediately after you awaken as most heart attacks occur early in the morning when blood is more prone to clotting. Wait for at least 30 minutes and warm up.

Do not eat heavy meal before shoveling: blood gets diverted from the heart to the stomach.

Warm up your muscles before starting by walking for a few minutes or marching in place.

Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling or during breaks. These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate.

While Shoveling Snow

Use a small shovel: shovel many small loads instead of heavy ones.

Begin slowly and take frequent, 15 minute breaks.

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Dress in layers, to avoid hypothermia (low body temperature) or overheating.

Cover your head and neck (50% body heat lost thru head and neck).

Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems.

Watch for warning signs of a heart attack, lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. If you think you are having a heart attack call 911.

The symptoms of hypothermia (cold exposure) include confusion and disorientation, dizziness, exhaustion, and profound shivering. Frostbite may be suspected with gray, yellowish, or white skin discoloration, a waxy feel to the skin, along with numbness to the involved area of the body. Those with medical conditions should consult with their medical professional to determine their limitations during weather like we are experiencing.

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