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Cardiac Arrest Risk Low in Marathons, Study Finds

Most Cases of Heart Stopping Linked to Pre-existing Conditions

Marathons & Cardiac Arrest: Perspective

The study findings offer valuable information, says Ravi Dave, MD, a cardiologist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center & Orthopaedic Hospital in Los Angeles. He reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

The findings will help doctors determine which tests may help identify potential problems in runners, he says. An echocardiogram, for instance, can help identify the heart muscle thickening, Dave says. This test uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart.

A stress test, done on a treadmill, can help identify those who have severe blockages, he says.

Those planning to run long-distance events should get a medical checkup, Dave says. "You need to indicate to the physician the reason for the checkup: that you are running," he tells WebMD.

It is better, Dave says, for beginners to do a half marathon before progressing to a full marathon.

Marathons & Heart Attacks: Advice

"Every person new to the sport should talk to their doctor about [heart] risk," Baggish says. A doctor will order tests based on factors such as a runner's age and family history of heart problems, he says.

Long-distance running, he says, "is overall a safe activity." However, ''leading the running lifestyle doesn't completely protect you from heart disease."

Baggish reports no disclosures. Some co-authors report receiving consulting fees from Lupin Pharmaceuticals and Furiex Pharmaceuticals, grant funding from GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, and lecture fees from Merck, Pfizer, Abbott, and others.

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