Running and Heart Attacks–Can Running Kill You?

If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular power and prevent heart-related problems, then running is your best training approach. Not only that, running sheds more pounds than other training programs, thus help you get the body of your dreams. In addition, many studies emphasized the important of regular exercise in keeping high blood pressure levels at bay, reducing stress level, improving sex drive and boosting mood and fitness status.

Still, many health nuts believe in the existence of a link between running and heart problems. In fact, most people assume that running is hazardous and may actually be a killer. This fear is well fed by the tragic deaths of marathoners while or after racing.

Therefore, to get the right facts, let’s take a look at what the scientists are actually saying about the subject.

Running, Death, and Scientific Evidence

In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers analyzed data pertaining to more than 10.9 million races running either marathons or half-marathon between 2000 and 2010. The main finding of the study was that there was no clear-cut evidence that proved that running did lead to a higher rate risk of heart attack. In fact, the researchers concluded that the chances of heart problems can be even lower for marathoners over people engaging in low-intensity exercise.

Another study has come to similar results. According to a Toronto study published by the British Medical Journal, the risk of a heart attack for a marathon runner is 1 death per 126,000 runners. That’s very low and inconclusive.

In reality, running adds years to your life and enhance health fitness levels. A famous study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that running and other types of intense workout program have been shown to decrease the likelihood of heart-related problems by more than 50 percent. Not only that, regular runners have fewer strokes, suffered from less high blood pressure and diabetes, and able to ward off osteoporosis and other serious health aliments.

Prevention Is Better Than a Cure

Still, taking the right precautions is the way to go is you’re looking to get the most out your training while steering clear of heart trouble. The matter of fact is that the chances of suffering heart attacks are high if you have the disease running in your family or leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

As a result, make sure to follow these preventative measures when thinking about engaging in vigorous running exercise.

  • Limit your mileage. The more you run, the better you get. But there is a limit. Running for more than 40 miles per week won’t help you achieve much progress. Instead, make sure to take ample recovery or cross-train.
  • Assess your family tree. Runners with already or underlying heart problems run a higher risk of suffering form cardiac arrest. Therefore, make sure to examine your family tree for any heart attack or abrupt deaths in relatives younger than 60. Just to be sure, go to your doctor and get a resting electrocardiogram (ECG) or an echocardiogram exam to look for any irregularities or dormant problem.
  • Exercise within your fitness level. Overdoing the exercise may not lead to a heart attack, but if you’re better off exercising within your fitness level. The high impact nature of running can leave you injured and burned out. Therefore, it’s wiser to take a safer approach by starting slowly, gradually building the intensity and taking ample recovery.

The rule of thumb is to always do your best and keep a keen eye on the way you felt both during and after exercise. And any sign of trouble should be properly addressed.

About the author


David DACK is a runner and an established author on weight loss, motivation and fitness.

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Links to the studies:

Contributing Author

This post was written by contributing author at Hive Health Media. If you would like to write for us about health, fitness, or blogging topics, click here.

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