Risk of cardiac arrest for marathon participants is very, very small

The Wall Street Journal reports that new research suggests that the risk of cardiac arrest for those participating in marathons may be very small.

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, “Data on about 10 years of marathons and half-marathons in the US were analyzed for the study, released in the New England Journal of Medicine.”

The investigators found that, “out of 10.9 million runners, there were 59 instances of cardiac arrest, 42 of them fatal.”

The AP reports, “The overall figures translate to 1 cardiac arrest per 184,000 participants and 1 death per 259,000 participants, the researchers said.”

These “numbers are low compared to other athletic activities, as shown by prior studies of deaths in college athletes, triathlon participants and previously healthy middle-aged joggers, researchers said.”

The CNN “The Chart” blog reports, “The grueling races may be safer than everyday running, in fact. As the study notes, the rate of sudden death among regular joggers has been estimated at one in 7,620 per year.”

The St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports that the “The rate of cardiac arrests was higher among men than women, and higher among marathon participants than those running in half-marathon events.”

Bloomberg News reports, “While reports of heart complications and sudden death after long races have risen in recent years, the increase stems from a greater number of participants, the investigators said.”

According to the NPR “Shots” blog, one the researchers “says that the survivors of race-related cardiac arrests got immediate, bystander-initiated CPR. Among people who died, less than half of got CPR.”

As an aside, the BostonGlobe reports, “At least 1,000 runners and family members will be trained in CPR the weekend before this year’s Boston Marathon.”

According to the Globe, “the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon, will offer free CPR training for participants and family members at the Boston Marathon Expo held the weekend before the April race.”

The article also discusses the findings from the New England Journal of Medicine study

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