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Hunting Season Can Mean Unexpected Heart Strain

Pheasant hunting in South Dakota. Image credit: South Dakota Department of Tourism
Pheasant hunting in South Dakota. Image credit: South Dakota Department of Tourism
October 18, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – It's a big weekend as thousands of hunters hit the cornfields of South Dakota in the hope of bagging their limit of pheasants.

And every year, media reports include stories of hunters suffering heart attacks in the field during this season.

Gary Myers, director of the American Heart Association of South Dakota's Mission Lifeline, says hunters who haven't had a physical or exercised much in the year since the last hunt, aren't really prepared – and may be putting themselves at risk for a heart attack.

"Not all hunters that we see come into our communities are physically active outside of hunting season – maybe lead somewhat of a sedentary lifestyle – and then, come in and really put their bodies and their hearts to work when they start tromping the fields for hunting season," Myers explains.

He cautions that no one should hunt alone, and hunters should always remember to tell friends or family about their location and scheduled return.

Myers says it's a good idea to check in with a doctor before planning a hunting trip.

"And make sure you are starting out in good health, good enough health to do that physical activity,” he advises. “And when you are out and about, pay attention to what your body is telling you. Don't ignore the signs and symptoms that your body might be telling you that something's not going quite right."

And if a medical issue comes up, Myers says don't be tempted to jump into a vehicle and drive yourself to the nearest hospital.

Instead, he advises, call 911 and wait for the emergency medical technicians to get to you.

"That chain of survival is activated as soon as that first EMT arrives on scene,” Myers says. “That's the first medical contact, and they start care as soon as they get to the patient, and start identifying those things, and start activating the team of professionals all up the way up line, to make sure the right things are done, and that heart muscle and brain is saved if you are experiencing one of those types of emergencies."


Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD