Running the Extra Mile: A Doctor’s Insight on Health Challenges in Marathon Training

by Dr. Divakar Bhat

Posted on : Mar 21, 2024


Marathons are trending.

Are runners community increasing in India?

Many youngsters are turning into fitness freaks with the runners community increasing in India. Many of the youngsters are worried about the increasing cases of people collapsing suddenly and losing life to chest pains, cardiac arrests, etc. We have seen cases of people collapsing in badminton courts, football stadiums, gyms and very recently at marathons. This has made people panic, especially among runners and fitness freaks. Though awareness on fitness is increasing, they do not have enough clarity on the right things. Most of them are self taught which they would have picked from either google or so called fitness experts who might not be qualified to suggest tips on health. Are they because of marathons? Are they because of excessive physical strains? Are they because of excess of exercises and gymming? I got an opportunity to look at the participants and the event of the Mumbai Marathon from close quarters because, I was one of them. As a cardiac surgeon my look and take at the event is much different than others. Most of the complications that occur during exercises or marathons or while playing games are because it involves extensive physical activities. The complications lead to heart related issues, strokes and cardiac arrests which could prove fatal. Marathon runners and fitness freaks are in a state of shock and confusion with two deaths and 22 people hospitalized during the recent Mumbai Marathon. It was observed that 1,820 runners required medical aid, with 22 being hospitalised, of which 19 were discharged by evening. The majority of cases involved muscle cramps, sprains, hypoglycaemia, bruises, exhaustion, and dehydration. Among the major injuries reported, two runners experienced chest pain, four had a loss of consciousness, four others suffered from knee injuries and leg cramps, one person had shoulder dislocation, and one exhibited symptoms of shivering and hypothermia. We can only say that negligence or carelessness was the cause of death for both, the 40 year old and the 74 year old runners. Marathon management made arrangement for an autopsy on the 40 year old runner. It was revealed that he had 80 % blockage in one of the main arteries. Similar thing had happened with the famous Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar recently. His death was a big turning point for a lot of fitness freaks to not take their fitness routine and health related issues for granted. A regular check up before taking up such tasks is a must. Just like how we have a thorough check up of our vehicles before going on a long drive, similarly, we must be sure that our body is fit enough to take up the task. If we neglect the signals the body gives like chest pain, irregular pains, etc, we need to listen to our body at that moment. If we are enjoying a simple run or a marathon without any issues, it is good. But, the moment we get cramps, pains etc., we must put it on pause and not strain ourselves.

What does the doctor have to say?

Dr. Divakar Bhat suggests a full body check up with a treadmill test after 35 years. ECG and ECO will become abnormal only after we get a heart attack. It could be absolutely normal if we check before any heart issues. Treadmill tests revel blockages. If there is variation in treadmill test, further tests are suggested. In some individual cases, if the patient is obese, has a history of diabetes, heart attacks, sugars are borderline, smokers, tobacco users etc., they are suggested CT angiograms, which is a next level to treadmill tests, when they embark on sudden exercise regimes like marathons, badminton, football matches, etc. without any warm up or practices. If the individual has 60 to 70% blockage, he is Asymptomatic. It may probably seem very normal during such tests. If first annual check is normal, there may be no need to check up for the next 5 years. If the doctor warns of your fluctuation in BP, variation in cholesterol or thyroid being on a higher side, then an annual check is recommended. You have the right to live your life to the fullest. Being precautious about your health and having healthy habits of exercising, regular sleeping, healthy food habits etc. makes life beautiful. You can run any number of marathons that comes your way in life.

One Aster

Personalized Medical Assistant for all your healthcare needs.
Book instant appointment, pay securely, eConsult with our doctors and save all your health records at one place are some of the benefits of OneAster App. It is everything you need, to manage your family Health.


Scan QR Code To Download

* Registration available only for valid Indian mobile number