Two years ago I believed I was a fit 53 year old dude, active and aware of avoiding certain “lifestyle” indulgences that “increase risk” for cardiovascular “events”. My physicals were all good and I was never prescribed a medication for blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. The last thing on my mind was being acutely prepared in the event I experienced a heart attack. By that I mean, I worked out, avoided tobacco, ate healthy food and did not do any drugs so why would I need to have some simple items in my pack that if used during the early phase of a heart attack, could save my life and preserve heart muscle. I knew what a heart attack was and had a little bit of training in dealing with them so there really was no excuse other than I never thought it could happen to me. Wrong! Fortunately, when my heat attack presented I was not 6 miles into the wilderness on a back pack hunt, or 5 miles off shore fishing. I was .5 miles from an ER working out in the gym at 10 AM. When the tell tale symptoms started I was able to get to the ER and receive life saving treatment that cleared the proximal blood clot in my left anterior descending artery before it damaged my heart. Then, after a look at what was going on in the cath lab I was faced with the reality my coronary arteries had been building up to this moment for some time and underwent triple bypass surgery. So what should I have had with me and do carry with me now, besides the standard first aid and emergency contact devices I have had?? A botttle of Chewable baby aspirin and some nitroglycerin. Why chewable baby aspirin? In a pinch chewing up any aspirin would have the same effect but baby aspirin has flavoring that cuts the edge of the very sour and bitter taste. When experience chest pain and symptoms nausea often is part of the bodies reaction so baby aspirin is ideal. Chewing it releases the active molecules into the blood faster and they will help move blood through the blocked artery in your heart and keep downstream muscle alive!! Without blood for an extended period of time muscle cells die. In the heart this is called myocardial infarction MI. We want to get blood moving down stream past the blocked artery. Nitro helps because it almost immediately opens the arterial passage (vasodilation) giving more room for blood to flow! An acute heart attack happens when some of the arterial build up we have as we age breaks free and our body automatically recognizes this as an injured tissue and activates the clotting cascade. It’s the clot that forms rapidly inside the artery that blocks the blood and creates the symptoms of a heart attack. It also is what can kill heart muscle if not dealt with rapidly or kill you. What to do? Study the symptoms and listen to stories from your friends who have experienced this and survived to tell about it. Mine symptoms were very mild and not remarkable, but I knew they felt different and realized they were similar to the classic symptom of a heart attack, so I acted immediately. My clot was very proximal (far up stream) in the artery, it has an infamous name… “widow maker”. Had I experienced this a few weeks later on a hunt last fall I most likely would be a memory and not typing this post right now. No matter how healthy you are, male or female, mid 30’s or 60’s we need to be aware this can happen at any moment as we all develop some form of arterial plaques that can potentially rupture and cause a heart attack. Risk factors just make it statistically more likely and it’s never impossible. Have some baby aspirin handy, know the symptoms of an acute event and listen to the stories from survivors like me. Stories and knowledge, that was all I had when it happened to me. That and the dumb luck of it happening in such close proximity to a hospital. So, that’s my story, and if you have one please share it whenever possible because it just may save someone’s life. Good hunting and safe adventures!