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KY Hunters: Take Aim at Heart Safety

PHOTO: Hunters are encouraged to be 'heart smart' during deer season. Photo courtesy of American Heart Association.
PHOTO: Hunters are encouraged to be 'heart smart' during deer season. Photo courtesy of American Heart Association.
November 12, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Thousands of hunters are in the woods of Kentucky as modern gun deer season opens. The American Heart Association is encouraging hunters who will be spreading out across the state to be "heart smart." The combination of the physical activity and excitement of the hunt, plus conditions such as weather, can be strenuous. Cardiologist Dr. Bob Oatfield warns hunters to be aware of the symptoms that could signal a heart attack.

"The single biggest thing for most men is going to be chest heaviness, tightness or just discomfort. It may radiate into the neck or the arms, although of all of the places it radiates, that which is most significant usually is the neck."

Another health issue that hunters should watch for is the onset of a stroke. Warning signs include slurred speech, sudden dizziness and weakness in the face, arm or leg. Oatfield advises anyone having symptoms of stroke or heart attack to call 911 immediately.

People at greatest risk, he adds, are those who do not get regular physical activity and those who smoke.

"Smoking increases the carbon monoxide in our blood and it decreases the delivery of oxygen, so you're working much harder to get to the same point as somebody who is a nonsmoker. The second major issues is diabetes. We work under a paradigm now that all diabetics have coronary disease, irrespective of age."

In a 2007 study, 25 middle-aged hunters were fitted with heart monitors, and researchers found that all but three had higher heart rates in the field than their maximums in treadmill tests. Some doctors recommend hunters go out with a buddy and carry a cell phone and an uncoated aspirin tablet.

More information is available at

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY