Munson Shares Heart Tips for Hunters

MyNorth News Service

(Press Release provided by Munson Healthcare)

TRAVERSE CITY: Tracking a nice eight-point through the scope of that .30-.30 rifle makes any true hunter’s heart pitter-pat. However, deer hunter and Munson Medical Center Cardiologist Kevin Clayton, D.O., FACC, advises older sportsmen and those prone to heart disease to use precautions so they literally do not get carried away. 

Every year we see a significant rise in heart attacks during deer season,” he said, bringing attention to Northern Michigan medical and health awareness. “What we understand about deer hunting is two-fold; when hunters see a deer, their catecholamines – those fight or flight hormones – drive their heart rate and their blood pressure to dangerously high levels.”

Hunters with heart risks who shoot a deer and then drag it through the woods alone also push their heart rate and blood pressure past the safe zone.

Dr. Clayton has these heart tips for hunters to avoid a heart attack:

  • Hunters who are at risk, such as those older than 40 and known to have diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of heart disease, should not drag a deer alone.  Hunters should stop frequently and purposely to catch one’s breath and allow the heart rate to come down.
  • Hunters who are heart patients should not hunt alone and ensure they take all their medications as prescribed. Those with coronary artery disease should carry their nitroglycerin in a pocket while on the hunt.

As a 56-year-old hunter himself, whose family has a history of heart disease, Dr. Clayton said he has stopped dragging deer alone. He and his colleagues at Webber Heart Center annually encounter hard-core hunters at the hospital who actually suffered a heart attack but put off seeking help.

“Every year we see hunters who experience heart attack symptoms who will come in the next day,” he said. “They wanted to get their deer in and processed.” 

Dr. Clayton urges hunters to pay attention to their body and seek medical attention immediately if they are experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Upper body pain in the shoulders, arms, neck, teeth, or jaw. It may or may not be accompanied with chest pain.
  • Pain in the abdominal area that feels like heartburn.
  • Anxiety, or a sense of doom, as if one is having a panic attack for no reason.
  • Lightheadedness in addition to chest pressure.
  • Sweating and cold clammy skin.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

“As you are hunting, use common sense,” he said. “We want you to be able to hunt deer next year.” 

For more information on Munson Medical Center cardiovascular services, go to

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