Tips to Make Sure Hunters’ Hearts Are Ready for Season

Julie Bitely

| 2 min read

Excited to get back into the Michigan woods for prime deer-hunting season? As you make your preparations, put a heart checkup on your list.
Heart attacks in the woods claim the lives of hunters every year. For those with pre-existing heart disease or conditions like high blood pressure or excess weight, the exertion of hunting, tracking, and hauling in a deer can prove dangerous, or worse, deadly. Hunting deaths from heart attacks aren’t officially tracked, but research has been done on the risk.
Middle-aged male hunters were sent into the woods during deer season hooked up to heart rate monitors. Cardiac stress testing showed that typical hunting activities sent heart rates soaring to levels that could trigger a heart attack for hunters with unknown heart disease. The men tested said they didn’t realize their hearts were so stressed while they were out in the woods.
So, what’s a hunter to do? Here are our tips for healthy hunting:
  • Talk to your doctor. If you’re at risk for a heart condition or currently have one, check in with your doctor to get the okay to hunt.
  • Just like you’d train for a race or other athletic event, getting in some cardio exercise before opening day is a good idea. Even just walking for 30 minutes a day in the weeks leading up to the hunt can help.
  • Don’t hunt alone. Use the buddy system to ensure everyone makes it out of the woods. Help each other with dragging deer out of the woods to lighten the load.
Symptoms of a heart attack include shortness of breath, unexplained sweating, chest pain, and faintness. Women should additionally pay attention to symptoms such as nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call for help right away and get to a hospital.
Enjoy the hunt and stay safe while you’re out there.
Photo credit: Kerry Sanders

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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