No higher risk of cardiac arrest to marathon runners

Contrary to what many people may believe, taking part in marathons and half-marathons is not linked to higher risk of cardiac arrest compared to other forms of athletics.

That’s according to a new study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, that analyzed 10 years of data to reveal that most of the participants who did experience cardiac arrest during such long-distance races usually had undiagnosed, pre-existing heart problems.

The researchers, who sourced their data from a US registry of cardiac arrests during marathons and half-marathons, also found that a key factor in saving the lives of such victims was the ability of bystanders to start CPR.

The study found that the rate of cardiac arrest in marathons and half-marathons was the same as, or lower than, that for other strenuous physical activities, that male contestants accounted for most of them and appear to be at most risk.

The analysis also revealed that the most common cause was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease.

Senior author Dr Aaron Baggish said “We found that the risk of cardiac arrest for marathon and half-marathon runners is equal to or less than the risk for other athletes – including triathletes, college athletes and casual joggers”.

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