Study ex­plores un­healthy ef­fect of marathons

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Run­ning a marathon can cause shin splints and aching joints, but just liv­ing near a marathon route could pose a health haz­ard for el­derly peo­ple, a new study sug­gests.

A study led by Anu­pam Jena, a pro­fes­sor of health­care pol­icy at Har­vard Med­i­cal School, sought to ex­am­ine the ef­fects of marathons, pa­rades and protest marches on lo­cal res­i­dents.

Her team dis­cov­ered that de­lays in care be­cause of road clo­sures may ex­plain the higher mor­tal­ity rate among pa­tients who were ad­mit­ted to the hospi­tal on the same day that a ma­jor marathon was held in the area. Am­bu­lance travel time in marathon-af­fected ar­eas was 4.4 min­utes longer on av­er­age, or about 32% longer. Per­haps be­cause of the longer re­sponse time, pa­tients hos­pi­tal­ized on marathon days were more likely to die within a month of be­ing ad­mit­ted than pa­tients brought to the hospi­tal on other days.

About 28.2% of el­derly adults who suf­fered se­ri­ous car­diac is­sues on marathon days died within 30 days, com­pared with 24.9% who ex­pe­ri­enced the same health is­sue on a day with­out a marathon.

For the study, pub­lished in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine, re­searchers ex­am­ined 11 years of am­bu­lance and pa­tient data from hos­pi­tals clos­est to the 11 largest U.S. marathons. They com­pared data from pa­tients ad­mit­ted on race days with that of pa­tients ad­mit­ted to the same hospi­tal with the same health is­sues five weeks be­fore and af­ter a marathon.

“Rates of acute my­ocar­dial in­farc­tion with con­cur­rent car­diac ar­rest were twice as high among (Medi­care) ben­e­fi­cia­ries hos­pi­tal­ized on marathon dates as among sim­i­lar ben­e­fi­cia­ries hos­pi­tal­ized on non­marathon dates, a find­ing that is con­sis­tent with de­layed care,” the study said.

Out­comes suf­fered when am­bu­lances were de­layed by clo­sures.

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