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BE HEART SMART DURING THE HUNT

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Deer hunting season has arrived and with that thousands of Hoosier hunters are headed to the woods to get the biggest buck they can find. But the American Heart Association encourages hunters to be heart smart. If last year's hunting season was the last time you've exercised, you may be putting yourself at risk of a heart attack.

An American Heart Association study compared the heart's workload of someone hunting to that of the someone exercising on a treadmill and, discovered that deer hunting places the heart under more strain. Therefore, hunters need to be heart smart.

Preparing early not only helps with physical fitness come deer season, but also with overall general health. Studies show that being physically fit lowers heart disease risk even in people who have other risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol. The American Heart Association has several online tools that can help with your conditioning. First visit www.mylifecheck.org to find out your heart score, then visit www.heart.org/start where you can track your fitness before you head to the woods.

Chad Sawyer, an American Heart Association You're The Cure volunteer and avid outdoorsman, said "When I took My Life Check quiz I thought for sure I was fit, but my heart score ended up being lower than I expected." That score got Sawyer to start watching what he eats and led to some family fun also.

Sawyer started encouraging his children to go for walks in the woods with him. They helped him prepare for the hunting season during the summer months by scouting out the best location, while staying active and getting in shape. "Hunting puts strain on your body, so you need to be prepared and know what your body can handle," stated Sawyer. "I end up carrying about 50 pounds worth of gear, put that on top of a big buck and I end up carrying a few hundred pounds out of the woods."

Heavy lifting, hiking and the overall physical activity of hunting can put a strain on any hunter's heart. Therefore, some other tips include cut out that heavy breakfast before heading out into the woods and avoid hunting alone. Bring a cell phone to reach emergency services if needed and tell friends or family your location and scheduled return. Also, make sensible plans for moving any game taken. Get help from friends and family members to haul in your trophy buck.

Warning signs of a heart attack are:

•An uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing

•Pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back again

•Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck and arms and is often accompanied by lightheadedness, sweating, nausea and shortness of breath
Stroke signs include:

•Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg

•Sudden dizziness and loss of coordination

•Slurred speech

•Severe headache

Both heart attack and stroke are medical emergencies and 911 needs to be accessed immediately.

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