Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Middle-aged athletes at low risk for cardiac arrest

It seems counterintuitive, but a study in the journal Circulation seems to show that middle-aged exercisers are at low risk of their heart stopping while playing sports--and if it does, they have a higher likelihood of surviving than those not playing sports when it happens.

Cardiac arrest is when electrical impulses making the heart beat cause it to stop. Heart attack is when clogged arteries prevent blood flow to the heart.

Sudden cardiac arrest was blamed for the deaths of Tim Russert and filmmaker John Hughes. Ditto for Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman and basketball players Pete Maravich and Reggie Lewis.

Investigators from Cedars-Sinai studied 1,247 people in the Portland, OR area who had sudden cardiac arrest between 2002 and 2013.

Just 5% suffered the arrest during sports.

Eighty-seven percent playing sports received resuscitation, 53% of those not playing sports did. Twenty-three percent of those playing sports survived--only 13% of those not playing sports made it.

Why? Well, if a person is playing sports there are probably people around to resuscitate or call for help.

But--the researchers said--older people can exercise without worrying so much about triggering a rhythm disturbance.

Good news--I guess.

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