Marathon Running – Questions remain about its impact on Cardiac Health

Marathon Running The sport of Marathon itself requires a lot of physical endurance and sudden deaths of some of the marathon runners on account of heart attack and cardiac arrest has indeed raised doubts about the possible link between marathon running and its impact on the heart of the marathon runner.

The death of marathoner Mica True due to heart attack when he was on a solo wilderness trial run has raised a serious debate on a possible link between the marathon running and heart problems. Recent studies carried on in The American Journal of Sports Medicine that gathered data on participation in and deaths during or immediately after marathon race from 2000 to 2009 showed that the death rate among participant marathon runners remained constant.

This study further states that a total of 28 people died during or within 24 hours after marathon and majority of them were men. The ratio stood at less than one death per 100,000 racers even though participation in marathon racing doubled in a decade from about 299,000 in 2000 to more than 473,000 finishers in 2009. The study was carried out by Dr. Julius Cuong Pham –Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and he concludes that marathon running is safe for a vast majority of runners.

Running a five minute per mile marathon requires a 15 times of energy production requirements for every two hours. It is estimated that the marathon runners who finish in over four hours maintains a ten fold increase in their metabolism and therefore such extended hours of physical endurance requires the cardio respiratory, endocrine and neuromuscular systems to operate at higher levels for an unreasonable amount of time. Any strenuous exercise that includes marathon running temporarily increases the risk of death as claimed by researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

The Austrian researchers confirmed that well trained athletes/marathon runners probably experienced some sub-clinical cardiac injury during the event and thus it resulted in the death of heart muscle cells. The underlying mechanism of cardiac cell death is still unknown.

Overall some deaths of the marathon runners do stir the hornets’ nest and provokes further research in this subject. The British Heart Foundation do warns that marathon runners must see a physician before their training session and all the runners are expected to follow a proper training program for several months. They must also certify that they are fit for the marathon competition for that day. In totality, the benefits of marathon running do outweigh all its risks.

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