Cardiac Risk Assessment
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Thank you for subscribing to Heart Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with useful information about cardiac care and prevention. We believe a healthy lifestyle starts with a strong heart. To learn more about our services and community events, or to find a physician, visit

To your health,

The Avera Staff


You might prepare for hunting season by checking your hunting terrain, equipment and rifle. But have you checked your heart before the hunt?

Every year, people suffer heart attacks while hunting. The physical activities of hunting -- long, strenuous walks in the woods, climbing tree stands, dragging a deer or other large animal and so on -- can put a strain on a hunter's heart, especially for a person who doesn't exercise regularly. Because many hunting grounds are remote, a heart attack while hunting can be especially life-threatening. Taking some heart-healthy precautions before you go out in the fields could save your life.

Train your heart before hunting. Have a checkup with your doctor before the season begins to assess your fitness level. Your doctor can help you devise a pre-season exercise routine to condition your heart for hunting.

Listen to your body. If you feel tired during the hunt, take a break. Try not to overexert yourself and stay hydrated during physical activity. Pay attention to the signs of a heart attack, such as chest or arm pain, chest pressure, dizziness and nausea.

Learn CPR. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save a life, especially if you are far from emergency medical personnel.

Stay connected. Make sure someone knows where you're hunting and carry a cell phone with you. It's best to hunt with at least one other person in case of emergency.

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You may have seen public defibrillators in places such as churches, shopping malls and health clubs, but are you prepared to use one in an emergency? The American Heart Association (AHA) offers several ways for you to learn how to use a defibrillator and how to implement a defibrillator at your workplace or other public space.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are computerized medical devices that are used on a person in cardiac arrest. The device can recognize a heart rhythm that needs a shock, and the machine automatically administers a shock through the person's chest wall only when necessary. The device also can instruct the user to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after a shock. AEDs can be life-saving devices in an emergency.

Sound intimidating? Actually, AEDs are quite simple to use, and the AHA offers several ways to help you become comfortable with using them. The AHA recommends that people who work in or frequent public spaces receive formal training on how to use an AED.

Many hospitals and clinics offer classes on the defibrillator and CPR. If there isn't a class in your area, the AHA also offers the Heartsaver AED Anytime Personal Learning Program. The program uses a DVD, workbook, software and mannequin to teach users about the AED and CPR. Click here for more information about the program.

If your workplace, church or school is about to receive a defibrillator, the AHA has recommendations on how to implement the defibrillator. Click here to learn more.

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In Great Health online archive.