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Listen to your heart for a healthy, successful deer season

LAURIUM – It’s deer season once again and the last thing you want to do is spend it in a doctor’s office – or worse, the emergency department – because of heart problems.

The excitement of the hunt alone can increase your risk for heart attack which is why Aspirus Heart & Vascular Cardiologist Peter Vaitkevicius, MD, recommends hunters consider the following precautions before heading out into the woods:

Do not ignore the warning signs.

Whether you have pre-existing heart disease or not, it’s important to know what your overall risk for heart attack is. Common warning signs – such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness – should never be ignored no matter how subtle. To be on the safe side, consult your primary care physician.

“It’s important to be cognizant of your risk factors and physical restrictions beforehand,” Dr. Vaitkevicius said. “We know how special this time of year is for the hunters in our community, so we want to make sure you head out with your best health in mind.”

Pack your medications and take them accordingly.

If you’re heading to deer camp for an extended stay, pack enough medications and take them as prescribed. It’s not advised to wash them down with anything other than what your health care provider recommends.

Seek help with hauling.

Hauling a deer is not easy. Combined with the excitement of your success, this can put you at even greater risk for heart attack. Have a buddy help you out or use an ATV to pull your prize back to camp.

Keep your emotions, and indulgences, in check.

For some, deer season brings on a rush of adrenaline, nervousness and certain indulgences, and this can develop into atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib is characterized by an unusually rapid and irregular heartbeat. This condition doesn’t always have symptoms, but when it does, it can be serious and lead to heart failure.

“You might experience a racing, fluttering heart, anxiety, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or fainting,” Dr. Vaitkevicius said. “Each year we see at least two cases of heart attacks brought on by the excitement and physical exertion that goes along with deer season so make sure you listen to what your heart and body are telling you.”

For more information about heart and vascular services at Aspirus, visit aspirus.org.