Heat strokes likelier to be life-threatening for long distance runners

Washington: A study has revealed that heat strokes are ten times more life-threatening than cardiac events for runners in races over 10 km.

The authors noted that the findings might play a role in the ongoing debate over pre-participation ECG screenings for preventing sudden death in athletes by offering a new perspective on the greatest health risk for runners.

Sami Viskin, MD, senior author of the study and a cardiologist at Tel Aviv Medical Center said that the research showed that there were no clinical studies of potential strategies to prevent heat stroke during these types of events.

Two of the most recognized causes of sudden death during an endurance race were sudden death usually caused by undetected heart disease in a young and seemingly healthy person, and heat stroke; however, the authors noted sudden death from an undetected heart condition often received more attention from the medical community and the media.

Viskin added that it was important that clinicians educate runners on the ways to minimize their risk of heat stroke, including allowing 10-14 days to adjust to a warm climate, discouraging running if a person was ill or was recently ill because a pre-existing fever impairs the body's ability to dissipate additional heat stress, and developing better methods of monitoring body core temperature during physical activity.

This study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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