Tag Archives: heart attack

Free CPR Training For Boston Marathon Runners

According to statistics 42 marathon runners have died after collapsing from cardiac arrest during marathons over the past decade. Boston Athletics Association, who are organisers of the popular Boston Marathon have announced, at least 1,000 runners and family members will be trained in CPR the weekend before this year’s Boston Marathon, after local researchers found that immediate use of the procedure could have saved many of the runners who have died from cardiac arrest during a marathon or half-marathon.

While the marathon has 28 medical stations along the 26.2-mile course, roving volunteers every half-mile with portable defibrillators, and two medical tents at the finish line, runners trained in CPR can help “bridge the gap between racers and various trained medical professionals.

The 30-minute training – to be administered in cooperation with the American Red Cross and American Heart Association – is enough to teach the basics so that people can perform CPR until medical help arrives, said Grilk, even though it won’t provide formal certification in CPR.

Source, courtesy of  Boston Globe.

Signs Of Heart Attack When Running Marathon

There have been a couple recent deaths in marathon races. In 2011 marathon deaths have been reported of a 35-year old in Chicago, 32 year old in San Antonio, 27 year old in Toronto, 32 year old in Montreal, and a 58 year old in savannah. These deaths are making some runners now worry about running long distance races?

I remember reading an article in NYT about this issue of runners dying from heart attack a few years ago. One of the conclusions was “The risk of dying on a marathon course is twice as high if you drive it than if you run it”.

Runners World magazine resident doctor wrote on this topic (Heart attacks) and he adviced all runners to look out for the following tale tell signs of an imminent heart attack when running.

Listen to your body and stop for chest pain or pressure; pain or pressure in your arm, neck, or jaw; skipping or irregular heart beat; or unusual breathlessness, loss of energy, or fatigue.

If you have an event, like blacking out or feeling dizzy while exercising or feeling your heart flutter or race, report it to your physician for evaluation. Also be aware that “heartburn” during exercise may not be from your stomach and can be your heart.



Blurred Vision While Running : Sarkozy Collapses Jogging

Am in my 8th week of training for 2009 Stanchart Nairobi Marathon. I had horrible experience yesterday during my weekend long run. I suffered a blurred vision while running, something that I have never experienced in my 3 years of marathon running.

The distance for the long run was 28 Ks and the blurred vision struck at around 22 K. I couldnt see properly beyond 20 metres, reading road signs and billboard advertisement 20 – 30 metres away was a problem. The only thing that kept me going was that I could see colours of cars coming my direction.

I suspected something was wrong at 20K mark when I touched my face and it felt dry and full of white particles. That was a sign of dehydration! A normal runner should be sweating water.

When the blurred vision struck I thought of stopping but with 5K to go I just kept running. The angel in my head was telling me stop but the demon in my heart was telling me keep going, what the hell the finish line is near. My body was feeling good, the leg muscles were fine. I jogged to the end.

When I got back to the house I drunk fluids, water and orange juice. Licked salt pallets. These made me feel 10% better. I rested for two hours and woke up feeling a headache. I tried to eat and found myself eating uncontrollably. It was after stuffing myself with food that I started feeling good again.

Sarkozy wasn’t so lucky

When I sat down to watch the evening news I heard French president Nikolas Sarkozy had collapsed while out jogging. That is when I realised how lucky I was.

I have been checking for information about what happened and I can confirm the blurred vision was a case of dehydration. I had not hydrated properly before the run and the weather was sunny and hot.I  was also wearing new Saucony running shoes and these gave me an incentive to run at a fast pace.

Dehydration increases the risk of heart attack because it increases heart rate. When you are dehydrated your blood thickens and the heart has to beat faster and harder to pump the blood. Blurred vision occurs when you reach heart beats of between 140 – 157 per minute.

Marathon Running and Low Risk of Heart Attack


Pheidippides, the Greek Soldier who is named after the marathon was the first recorded death of marathon. In the story, it is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the senate with the words “Masters! Victory is ours!” before collapsing and dying due to exhaustion.

What are the chances of you falling down with an heart attack? A study published in 1996, found that the risk of having a fatal heart attack during, or in the period 24 hours after, a marathon, was approximately 1 in 50,000 over an athlete’s racing career – which the authors characterised as an “extremely small” risk.


The paper went on to say that since the risk was so small, cardiac screening programs for marathons were not warranted.


In another study of 60 non elite runners in 2006, they tested the runners’ blood for proteins that signal heart muscle damage and heart dysfunction. It revealed that runners who had done less than 35 miles per week training before the race were most likely to show some heart damage or dysfunction, while runners who had done more than 45 miles per week training beforehand showed little or no heart problems.


Marathon running is a test of endurance, lets assume it stresses the heart more than shorter running activities, and this may be the reason why marathon runners who are at risk seem to drop down with heart attack.

Ryan Shay tragedy

Its important to note that majority of runners who have died of heart attack were people who had undiagnosed heart anomalies. Other casualties are runners who knew they were at risk but decided to ignore the threat of heart attack. I remember when Ryan Shay died at 2007 US Olympic Trials it was reported his Doctor had warned Shay to cut down on his running because his heart rate was too low and sooner or later he would need to use a pacemaker. If you look at it realistically, Ryan Shay was in the wrong career.


Sign of Risk of Heart Attack

The best way to avoid coming down with heart attack during running is take a heart check and see whether you are at risk. One sign of risk is a big heart. But endurance athletes have big hearts than normal so don’t get scared if the Doctor tells you, “you have a big heart.” The Doctor should consider all factors before making a final conclusion.

Safe Running