© 2014-2021 Copyright by P. K. H. Groth, Denver, Colorado, USA All rights reserved - See contact page for for permission to republish article excerpts.
Your Heart Will Work Harder in Colorado’s High Country: Let’s talk again about your heart, which will work harder at high altitudes. Doing anything at high altitude places a stress on your heart and the circulatory system it services. High blood pressure will increase in the lower air pressure at high altitude. Dehydration and digestion of large meals (especially in late evenings) sends blood to the digestive system and increases metabolic stress, which adds to cardiac stress. Acclimation to high altitudes is extremely important for people with heart problems or who are overweight. Researchers analyzed 301 sudden cardiac arrest deaths of Austrian mountain hikers. They found that people who slept at lower elevations the day before vigorous mountain exercise were five times as likely to die of heart attacks as people who slept at higher elevations. They had not acclimated to the stresses of higher altitudes. If you are a lowlander, spend a few days adjusting to high altitude before hunting begins. In-The Field Heart Monitoring: Usually about twelve Michigan hunters die of heart attacks each year. To see why, Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, equipped 25 hunters with portable heart monitors. This provided detailed afield hunter heart data. Merely seeing a deer made some men’s heart rates double. Sighting a big buck made the heart really race in some of the men. The researchers then put hunters through treadmill tests to find their maximum allowable heart rates. The maximum allowable rates for most men were reached or exceeded when stalking, shooting at the deer, or dragging a kill! Many of the men had absolutely no idea they had approached or exceeded their individual danger point. The researchers recommended: Prepare Extensively and Early: a. Get into an exercise program to build endurance WELL BEFORE the hunting season. b. Have a doctor check for heart disease, particularly if you smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes or have other heart risk factors. c. Don’t drag a deer or elk alone; get help. Field dressing a 700 pound animal can be highly stressful to your heart. Proceed slowly and take frequent rests. Don’t heft or carry 70-90 pound game quarters: DRAG THEM! After the Kill: At the sight of animals, the adrenaline kicks in and the heartbeat rate increases, followed by elevated blood pressure. Some hunters may hold their breath while they wait for a cleart shot and sight on the game. This begins a drop in blood oxygen level and may increase the heart pulse rate. So it is no wonder that the time immediately after making a kill has been a life-threatening period for hunters, especially if they are in adverse conditions and run to the kill site. A number of hunters have heart attacks at this time of excitement. Emotionally calm down before approaching the animal. Notch your license. Sip some water. Get your wits back under control. Let your heart calm. Do not immediately chase a wounded animal. Wait a few minutes (a minimum of 30 minutes is the rule) and then quietly and slowly pursue it. This will allow the animal to lay down and die without running afar, and you having to also run far to find it (and haul it back). Breathe deeply during this waiting time to increase oxygen absorption. The oxygen will allow your heart beat to slower while maintaining good blood circulation. Sip some more water - you may need extra hydration later as you field dress a large elk, especially if you are alone. Dehydration is stressful to the heart.
Hunter Heart Attacks