North, south, east and west – there’s an abundance of golf courses across Southwest Florida but before you take to the green, a word of caution.
“It turns out that the golf course is the 5th likeliest place to have a cardiac arrest outside of the home,” warns Dr. Edward Palank, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System. He speaks from experience. “What got me interested in golf and heart disease was I was on the 17th hole, actually the 18th hole and there was a group in front of me on the 18th green and an individual collapsed.”
The 35 year old survived but it prompted Dr. Palank to further investigate. “I did a study a number of years ago throughout the state of Florida and looked at cardiac arrest o the golf course. During the study period, which was three months, everyone that had a cardiac arrest on the golf course died.”
The reason? “The problem with the golf course is it’s a remote location. So if you collapse on the 4th hole, no one may be around or it may take time to summon help.” Age can also contribute to the problem. “If you think about the time that you spend playing golf, its not a function of the golf, but if you are spending 4 or 5 hours, three days a week, and you are in an age group where you are possibly coronary prone, things are going to happen."
Before you hit the links, make sure someone in your group has a cell phone if there’s a need to call 9-1-1. In addition, most golf courses here in Southwest Florida are now equipped with defibrillators to help anyone who may have a cardiac event.