This time of year can be a deadly one for people in the fields from hunting and harvesting. During the beginning of big game hunting season, the Avera Heart Hospital Emergency Department can see 10 a day who are experiencing heart attacks or chest pain. We found a man who's love for hunting runs deep in his blood and he knows that could be hard on his heart if he's not smart.
Don smiles and says, " I get revved."
Although his heart races with excitement just talking about it, he knows getting his heart checked before his beloved archery season starts is crucial. And that's where colleague Dr. John Jerstad comes in. He is the director of the Emergency Department at the Avera Heart Hospital and Chest Pain Center.
Dr. Jerstad says, "This is the time when we get a lot of people that maybe didn't know they had underlying heart disease and hunting will bring it out. It is a big stress on your heart especially dragging deer and the extremes in temperatures and incline walking could all bring it on."
If Don and his friends get a tag to hunt deer in the black hills they will usually go out to Great Bear to exercise. They'll walk up and down the hills for 2 months prior to the opening of the season. Dr. Jerstad says that helps but realistically out-of-shape hunters should have started exercising 6 months prior to hunting.
Dr. Jerstad says, "you need to stratify your risks. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, if you are a smoker and have a family of heart disease you need to check with your doctor first before taking on the hunt."
Don says, "after what I've seen here, I always have my cell phone with me and everyone knows where I'm going. My wife and my kids know."
Dr. Jerstad says, "yes, absolutely bring a cell phone and if you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, irregular heart rhythm stop and get help right away."
Having a cell is smart. Knowing when to call it quits and call for help, even smarter. No one at the Heart Hospital wants the thrill of the hunt to be the death of you.
The Avera Heart Hospital does offer a comprehensive heart screening called Planet Heart for $50. Call 877-AT-AVERA to make an appointment. It's a good idea for everyone to get a baseline, especially men over 40.