Manual Snow Removal and Sudden Death

Petar Škavić, Valter Stemberga, Din Duraković


The aim was to analyze the causes of sudden death in middle-aged and elderly men during manual snow removal. During snowy winter months in Zagreb, from January 2013 to January 2014, four males aged 52, 65, 72 and 81, died suddenly while manually removing snow. They were all autopsied. All of them have suffered from arterial hypertension and coronary heart disease, and one suffered from metabolic syndrome. The cause of death in two was probable malignant ventricular arrhythmia. In the third who fell down on the icy surface, consequences were cerebral contusion and neck vertebral luxation. In the fourth who fell down from the top of the 15 m tall building during snow removal, cause of death were multiple injuries: fractures of both clavicles, ribs and vertebras Th5, Th6, hematothorax, cardiac contusion, hematopericardium, thoracic aorta rupture, contusion and rupture of both lungs, rupture of diaphragm, liver rupture, hematoperitoneum and cerebral edema. The estimated death rate in the City of Zagreb for males aged 30-64 years is 5.44/1,000,000 inhabitants, what is less than in those aged 65-85 years (40.03/1,000,000; p=0.2269). Sudden strenuous physical effort due to manual snow removal in two non-trained persons, who have suffered from arterial hypertension and coronary heart disease, was the cause of sudden death. Manual snow removal is an important cause of sudden death, as it is a very arduous effort in non-adapted middle-aged and elderly persons.


men; manual snow removal; strenuous physical exercise; sudden death

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