Anyone who hunts will tell you it's a rush of adrenaline that gets your heart pumping like nothing else, but if you have heart disease it can be dangerous. We went to Aberdeen to meet a deer hunter in his 40's who is thankful he survived opening day last year after suffering a major heart attack in a field in the middle of no where.
Randy Lemke from Aberdeen is chompin' at the bit for the deer hunting season opener (rifle) next month in November. Last years opener almost killed him. He went out in the morning to put up his tree stand in a wooded area north of town. He noticed he was nauseous and his left arm started to ache. It went away he came back in to town to grab his cell phone and went back out after lunch. A mile and a half into his hike it hit him again.
Randy says, "I got out there and I was tired and sweating a lot which was odd because it was cool out, but I had a lot of layers on then my arm starting hurting real bad. I just couldn't get any relief and then my chest started hurting. It was hard for me to swallow and I thought to myself this must be a heart attack. I said I better get over to the winter wheat field because it's green, low, it had just been cut so I figured if I went down they could find me."
That area was 150 yards away, but it seemed he would never get there.
Randy says, "I had to kneel down a lot to rest. I just couldn't catch my breath and I hurt so bad. I thought well this is it. I prayed and said God I'm either gonna die here or you're gonna have to get somebody to get me out of here."
Out of no where a pickup showed up on this grass road near where he was laying. (by this time he was laying on his back) He managed to wave down the pickup. It had 2 fellow hunters from Sioux Falls who took him to Houghton. Randy eventually was air lifted to Avera St. Luke's Hospital and immediately wheeled in to surgery. It just so happened the "on-call" doctor was a cardiologist with Avera Cardiology Specialists. They placed two stents in his coronary arteries and he says he felt immediate relief. Randy knew he had high cholesterol, but after surgery he found out he had 100% blockage in one artery. 99% in the other. He was lucky to have lived.
Interventional Cardiologist Dr.Navin Gupta with Avera Cardiology Specialists says, "Observational studies have shown hunters can have substantial increase in heart rate and blood pressure to the point of a stress test so for patients who may not know they have heart disease that can increase their risk for heart attack or complications. That's why it's important to get screened before they head out, especially if they are alone in a remote location."
Randy is going out on the season opener with one exception he's going with his 15 year old daughter Madison.
Randy hopes his heart attack will serve as a wake up call to other hunters be diligent with your gun and gear, but don't forget about the most important piece of equipment; your body.
Even though Randy was smart to go back and get his cell phone it ended up being a moot point. He had no signal and couldn't call for help. Luckily, it ended well.