Hunting comes with a number of health risks. For example, on average, there are 6000 injuries related to falling from tree stands every year. Other risks include fire, drowning, exposure, wildlife attacks, motor vehicle accidents, firearm accidents and hearing loss. However, heart attacks are the #1 cause of fatalities during hunting season. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk that your hunting season will include heart attack.
Step 1: Get a check-up
Getting a check-up is essential, especially if you’re over 45. You know if you smoke, are overweight or have a family history of health problems. However, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) often don’t offer early symptoms. Your healthcare provider can test for these conditions and advise you on any other health risks you may have. You’re much better off knowing where you stand on your health than getting caught by surprise in the wilderness.
Step 2: Walk!
You should be walking at least 30 minutes every day. If you’ve been a couch potato all year, start your walking program slowly and work up to a brisk pace. After that, push yourself by hitting some of the hills around Madison County. They aren’t hard to find! In the weeks before hunting season, add some weight to your workout with a backpack or leg and arm weights. Don’t expect your body to go on a 2-3 hour trek through the woods with little or no conditioning.
Step 3: Reduce Your Risk Factors
Quit smoking, eat right and lose some weight. Swap the bread and pasta for more vegetables, fruit and protein. A little cheese is fine but it has a lot of fat. Grass-fed meats are better than corn-fed meats. If you have elk or venison leftover from last season’s hunt, this is a good time to eat it up.
Step 4: Pack Your Medications
Planning a 2 day hunting trip? Pack enough medications for a week. If you’re not allergic to aspirin, pack some full strength (325mg) aspirin. If you start experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, chew an aspirin and take it easy.
Step 5: Learn CPR
Most of the best hunting in Madison County is located in remote areas. If someone in your hunting party isn’t breathing and has no pulse, CPR should be started immediately. All hunters who may hunt in remote areas should learn CPR.
Heart attack signals
Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts for more than two minutes, or fades and returns.
Chest pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, jaw or arms.
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
Dizziness, fainting, sweating, or nausea.
Women can have a heart attack without chest pressure and other warning signals might be more subtle. Some women experience upper back pressure during a heart attack.
These signals indicate that the heart is starving for oxygen and should not be ignored. If you’re struggling to keep up, develop chest pains or have any other heart attack symptoms, stop immediately. Even if your symptoms improve, chew your aspirin, call 911 and get to the nearest hospital.