POTTSTOWN, Pa. — Friends and family are mourning a pregnant teen who died after shoveling snow outside her home.
A family member told WCAU that 18-year-old Briahna Gerloff collapsed after shoveling snow outside her home at about 9 a.m Saturday.
Gerloff is one of 11 people who have died after shoveling snow when this weekend’s massive snowstorms hit the east coast. So far, 30 people have died from snow-related incidents.
“I told her it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to be outside shoveling,” a family member, who was not identified, told WCAU. “She wanted to do it anyway.”
The family member said he went across the street to take a break while Gerloff went back inside. After returning home, the family member entered the kitchen where he found her unresponsive on the floor.
Once the police and ambulance arrived to the scene, Gerloff’s family learned that Briahna and her baby had died.
Family members say Gerloff, was 8 months pregnant and suffered from several heart defects, including Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
Certain people are more susceptible to heart attacks while shoveling snow, including those who are 55 and older with a sedentary lifestyle and people with known heart diseases.
The cold weather compounds the danger for heart attacks because the frigid temps increase blood pressure and heart rate, and constrict blood vessels.
Experts suggest the best way to stay safe when shoveling snow is to take frequent breaks, avoid drinking alcohol or smoking, not eat a big meal and, of course, dress warmly. Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack — chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea — can also help you know when to seek medical help.