When applying to compete in a half marathon, full marathon or even a triathlon, it is not only training and physical preparations which we should be undertaking. Carrying out a full body checkup, especially cardiac examination, are also highly important.
Exercise, particularly running, is highly beneficial to your health. It reduces the risk of heart disease and hypertension, lowers bad fats (LDL) and increases good fats (HDL). However, for those wishing to increase their runs or to run long distance, the body should be properly prepared and close attention should be paid to any abnormal symptoms that occur when training, for instance, chest pain, fainting or heart palpitations.
The cardiac evaluation begins with an inquiry into the patient’s medical history, as some people may suffer from preexisting health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.
In cases where the patient’s family has a history of premature death or instances of fatalities without the cause, it may be due to some forms of gene-related disorders.
After history taking, some cases may need specific cardiac investigations other that basic laboratory test . Such assessments include electrocardiograms (ECG), exercise stress tests or an echocardiogram.
Chest pain that feels as though there is a heavy weight being pressed down onto the mid chest area, which doesn’t go away despite changing position or posture, or the pain radiating to the jaw and left shoulder point to ischemic heart disease. However, some ischemic heart disease sufferers may experience other non-specific forms of chest pain, such as a stabbing pain in the sternum. Alternatively, they may feel only exertional dyspnea or difficulties to take a breath.
However, if the chest pain increases when the chest is compressed, or if the aching increases or decreases during movement, this usually means that it is not a case of ischemic heart disease. Musculoskeletal pain is the most likely cause. Nevertheless, if you experience continuous and constant abnormal symptoms, are unsure of the cause, feel anxious about your physical health, you should consult a doctor to professionally assess your condition.
Most of the runners who died while exercising, the deaths are usually a result of myocardial infarctions (heart attack).
Fatalities during exercise among those under the age of 35 years sometimes happen as a result of genetic disorders. Such as hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM), with patients sometimes having no prior symptoms and being completely unaware of their condition. However, they may have experienced heart palpitations, faintness while exercising, or have family members who have lost their life with no known cause. While engaging in heavy exercise, the heart muscles of these patients may strongly contract and obstruct the blood’s exit route.
Running enthusiasts with preexisting heart conditions should consult their doctor to be sure that they are completely safe to continue exercising. Additionally, everyone should undergo annual health checkups to reduce the future risk of cardiovascular disease or dangerous conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Remark: This article is from a ‘Samitivej Club LIVE’ interview under the topic of “Are You Safe to Do a Half Marathon, Full Marathon or Triathlon?”
The First Class Honors M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, 2010 Faculty of Medicine Chulalongkorn University , 2010