By Chung Hyun-chae

About half of deaths that occur during mountain hiking are caused by heart attacks, the Korea National Park Service (KNPS) said Friday.

According to the park management, the number of fatal accidents occurring at national parks from 2010 through 2014 was 124.

Of these people, 60, or 48 percent, died from a heart attack.

The number of such incidents has been on the rise from seven in 2011 to nine in 2012, 12 in 2013 and 19 last year The year 2010 was an anomalous year with 13 deaths.

The second most reported deaths were from falls at 39 cases followed by drowning with 14 death in a natural disaster, five and death from hyperthermia, three.

“As more people visit mountains with the weather becoming warmer, the number of climbing accidents is increasing,” a KNPS official said. “It is dangerous for climbers to hike without considering their health.”

In order to cope with the increasing number of deaths by heart attack, the service decided to place 103 more defibrillators at the starts of major hiking routes in all national parks, in addition to the current 150.

Given that the largest number of deaths occurs on Mount Bukhan in northern Seoul, where 73 million people visit annually, the KPNS safety supervision team is on constant alert on its nine major peaks.

The organization also launched a medical service with Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital at the entrance of the mountain park in March, offering pulse and blood pressure checkups to climbers from 10 am to 12 pm on every third Sunday.

“It is important for people to choose hiking courses that are the most suitable for them,” the official said.

SOURCE: The Korea Times