Long-distance runners may at times worry about their heart health while pounding out the miles. But a study finds that heat stroke fells many more runners than does a bum ticker.
Heat stroke can damage a person’s brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. And new data underscores the toll it takes.
Researchers examined health records from more than 130,000 runners who competed in events in Tel Aviv during a seven-year span. The analysis revealed that distance runners were 10 times more likely to experience heat stroke than serious cardiac problems. All the fatal or life-threatening events were from heat stroke. The study is in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. [Lior Yankelson et al, Life-Threatening Events During Endurance Sports: Is Heat Stroke More Prevalent Than Arrhythmic Death?]
The researchers advise runners to take 10 to 14 days to adjust to the climate before tackling a serious run in a hot region. And they say to sit out the run if you’ve been sick recently.
Perhaps one day runners will swallow internal temperature sensors that reliably record core body temperature. But for now runners should simply do their best to keep cool.
—Dina Fine Maron