The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

September 13, 2012

The heart of hunting | Make sure your ticker is ready for the season

Hunting season is approaching faster than cottontail fleeing a beagle.

Diehard archers are sighting in their bows and fine-tuning their shooting styles before opening day, which is Sept. 29.

Another piece of equipment that is vital to their hunt is their health, especially their hearts.

Hunting is enjoyable, but it also can be stressful.

It’s one thing to take the family pet for its daily walk around the block and on a level surface. It’s something entirely different when hunters are afield or in the woods, hiking long distances or up and down hills, climbing trees, crossing creeks and hefting themselves over blowdowns, sometimes while carrying a tree stand, hunting blind or fully loaded backpack on their backs.

And if they are lucky enough to harvest a Pennsylvania whitetail, there’s also the animal to drag back to their vehicle.

All that exertion puts stress on the ol’ ticker.

Before hunters begin to think about that record-book buck, they should make an appointment with their family doctor to get a thorough check-up. That is sound advice that health experts have been touting for years.

Or they should check out Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center’s Hunting Down Heart Disease program, which will be held Sept. 17 at Gander Mountain in Richland Township. Cardiac services and staff from the neurosurgery department will be on hand to provide important information about heart disease and how to avoid back injuries. While there, hunters also can have their blood pressure checked and undergo a body fat analysis screening.

If you are foolhardy enough to think you don’t need a medical exam, you can at least reduce the risk of a heart attack by heeding the following advice:

-- Quit smoking. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and also speeds your heart rate.

-- Walk slowly and take frequent breaks.

-- Get help to drag out your game.

-- Learn the symptoms of a heart attack: dizziness, chest pain or nausea and shortness of breath.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission also has some tips for bowhunters, or any hunter, that are useful before heading afield:

-- Carry a cellphone to call for help or a whistle to alert others in your vicinity.

-- Tell a friend or loved one where you will be hunting and what time to expect you back from your sojourn.

Hunting can be an enjoyable pastime. For goodness sake, make sure you’re healthy enough to relish your time afield.

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