Can heart patients run a marathon safely?

An Indian dies of a heart attack every 33 seconds. Surprisingly, in the last few years recreational running is gaining popularity. We are determined to make running more of a lifestyle improvement, in order to benefit not only our physical body but also our heart

Can heart patients run a marathon safely
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“As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are.”- Joan Benoit

In 2004, when Mumbai marathon first began, the bookings were open till the day before the event. This year, the spots were filled 6 months in advance, a massive transformation which determines the health centric preferences of the population.

Running lowers blood pressure, increases the good cholesterol, and decreases the risk of diabetes, coronary heart diseases and heart attack. Needless to say that there are only benefits of running.

However, if you are a heart patient, that is, if you have recently suffered a heart attack or undergone a bypass or angioplasty surgery, there are certain measures one should take while preparing for a safe marathon:

Tests: All cardiac patients must undergo a series of tests- ECG, routine blood tests, 2D-Echocardiogram and stress test (certified by a cardiologist), to make sure that their heart is in prime condition to run a marathon.

Normal heart pumping: If you’ve undergone a successful bypass or angioplasty surgery, and your heart pumping is normal, then you are ready to participate in a marathon.

Time gap: In a scenario where you have suffered a heart attack, take rest for at least three months, giving ample time to heal and for healthy scar formation.

Prepare in advance: If this is your first marathon, then start with improving your fitness levels. Begin with a brisk walk, move on to jogging and then running.

Medicines: Take your medicines regularly, especially on the day of the run.

Symptoms: If you experience some chest pain or breathlessness, stop any strenuous activity and report to your cardiologist.

A heart patient can run a marathon safely and maintain their health as well if they vigilantly take these precautionary measures. This year about 90 rehabilitated cardiac patients from Asian Heart Institute will be running the Mumbai Marathon.

A feat that everyone, patient or not, must aspire to accomplish.

The author is a senior cardiologist at the Asian Heart Institute

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