November 21st, 2014
Posted by Patti Doherty, R.N.
According to Running USA’s annual marathon report, in 2013 more than 541,000 runners finished over 1,100 marathons, which is a 140% increase in participation since 1990. Increasingly women are joining this running class and now represent almost half the participants. Also adding to this group is a growing number of older runners— those ages 40 and above.
The benefits from running are endless, including reduction of heart disease, increased lung capacity, weight loss, improved bone density, stress reduction and improved mental health. With all of the good news associated with running, there is also a bit of bad news – a small risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). We are often shocked to hear of an athlete’s death during a race or game. During the 2009 Detroit Marathon, for example, three men died of SCD. The youngest SCD victim was 26 and the oldest 65. SCD events are rare in athletes – about 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 200,000 annually. These deaths generally occur during or after short intense bursts of energy. SCD events effect more men and more non-Caucasian individuals. Sports that require short bursts of activity — basketball, football, soccer, etc. – seem to pose a higher risk of SCD.