Marathons are grueling. Twenty-six miles. It’s no wonder so many people drop dead in the middle of the race. Or do they? How dangerous is marathon running, really? With the big Cleveland Marathon coming up this weekend, TBE asked Cleveland Clinic preventive cardiology expert Gordon Blackburn, PhD, what kind of threat the thousands of participants face.
“The truth is, the overall risk of death with marathon running is rare”, says Dr. Blackburn. “Slightly less than one per 100,000 participants dies during a marathon or within an hour afterward. The vast majority of these tragic incidents occur in the final quarter of the race. Most importantly, two thirds the of runners who die during marathons have underlying heart conditions – enlarged hearts or blockages of the coronary arteries. Half marathons are much safer – about four times safer than a full marathon. Our society would benefit from more exercise overall. But anyone with heart problems should keep in mind that pushing their bodies to the extremes brings increased risk of complications and death.
To learn more about exercising with heart disease, join us this Wednesday, May 16 at noon for a free secure webchat “Cardio-Athlete” with Dr. Blackburn. You will have the opportunity to chat live with Dr. Blackburn and ask your questions.