Marathons Can Be Deadly
Especially for midlife and older men, running a marathon can mean a heart attack close to the finish line. In a recent study done atthe Crozer-Keystone Health System in Springfield, Pennsylvania, 93% of the events occurred in male runners whose average age was 49.
The researchers are recommending that defibrillators be standard equipment at the end of each race. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians in Philadelphia, and should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. Even so, the data are compelling and worth heeding if the man in your life is considering a 26-mile run.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurred in one of 55,000 marathon runners with death due to the arrest at one in 171,000, according to a survey of marathon directors. The use of an automated external defibrillator was "significantly associated with recovery from sudden cardiac arrest."
An article about the study in MedPage Today reports that according to Kevin M. DuPrey, DO, a total of 22 out of 30 sudden cardiac arrests in runners happened after mile 15 and 16 of them took place between mile 23 and the finish line. DuPrey is cited in the MedPage Today article as noting that while the overall risk of sudden cardiac arrest during a marathon is low, without intervention the risk of death is greater than 95%. Not only that, but for every minute that goes by without defibrillation, survival drops by 7% to 10%.
DuPrey told MedPage Today that every runner should have a medical evaluation before participating in a marathon "because of the small but real risk of sudden arrest and death."