Is Hunting Killing Your Heart?
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We found a GREAT article on DeerandDeerHunting.com. Half of it is reposted here with their permission. If you haven’t checked out their site, I highly recommend checking it out and signing up for their e-newsletter.
Not until last season, when I strapped on a monitor, have I ever considered how hard my heart beats while hunting.
Although opinion varies, many doctors caution against exercising at a level greater than 85 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate. This increases the risk of heart attack.
For men, maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting age from 220. For me, the equation reads 220 – 21 = 199. Eighty-five percent of that is 169.
I found myself battling to keep my heart rate below 169 throughout deer hunting season. Just hiking trails in west Texas, I quickly exceeded my 85 percent maximum. I attained my season high of 201 while pulling a whitetail on a game cart that had two flat tires.
My experiences echoed the results of a study conducted by Michigan’s Beaumont Hospital. Published in 2007 in the American Journal of Cardiology, the study fitted heart monitors on 25 middle-aged hunters, 17 of whom had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
During deer season, all but three exceeded the maximum rate they had achieved on a treadmill test. Dragging downed game raised heart rates to the most dangerous levels, but several men experienced jumps into the red zone simply from spotting or shooting at a deer.
According to study co-author Dr. Barry Franklin, the strain hunting puts on the heart is attributed to three factors: hunting’s strenuous nature, the epinephrine (or “excitement”) response upon seeing game and environmental stresses, including cold weather and altitude.
Franklin also notes that many hunters in the study exhibited life-threatening heart-rhythm irregularities (aka cardiac arrhythmia) that had not been apparent on EKG readouts during laboratory treadmill tests. This was a disturbing finding. Heart arrhythmia is the trigger for cardiac arrest.
So what can you do to keep your heart working during the hunting months?
Game Glide blog post by Jason Proch