The risk factors of a heart attack include genetics, obesity and smoking -- but it also includes the weather.

Shoveling snow covered driveways and chilly air are two things people can expect in the winter months. What isn't expected is how they can become deadly for those with heart conditions.

Samaritan Hospital Chief Cardiologist Dr. Robert Benton explains to his patients how the heart is affected in cold weather.

"There is a peek of cardiac events during winter time,” said Benton. "Your heart rate goes up, to conserve heat your peripheral vessels constrict, the blood pressure goes up that means the heart work harder."

In addition to cold weather affecting the heart add in a physical activity -- like shoveling -- and it can spell trouble. Do some prep work ahead of time

"Drink lots of fluid before you go out. Make sure you are wearing layered clothing because you can certainly overheat,” said Benton.

Another safety tip is to avoid eating a heavy meal prior to any vigorous exercise, as blood tends to shift away from the heart making it work even harder. People who have significant illnesses should hire someone to do the work or use a self-propelled snow blower.

For those without anyone to help with your driveway – there are safe ways to remove snow. Avoid picking up the snow and simply push it.

No matter what season it is, know the warning signs of a heart attack. Classic symptoms are chest pains, chest discomfort, dizziness, shortness of breath, and an overall heaviness in the chest.

Women can experience more vague symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Compared to men women die more often from heart attacks mainly because they wait longer to seek treatment.

If you experience any type of discomfort, get medical assistance immediately.