Can you have a heart attack while running?

Running is considered a cardiovascular exercise that can help you stay fit and healthy. While it is great for your health, is there a risk of having a heart attack during running? Let’s find out.

Running is a popular choice for people who want to lose weight or stay fit. It demands both bodily strength and a mental push to initiate. As you run, your muscles engage, fostering endurance and toning the body. This aerobic exercise elevates the heart rate, which helps improve cardiovascular health while burning calories. However, amidst all the benefits and excitement, have you ever wondered if your heart is really ready for this level of stress caused by running? Maybe not! And that’s why many people end up following the wrong techniques and increasing their risk of a heart attack during running.

Can running increase the risk of a heart attack?

Although running is generally beneficial for heart health, there is a small risk of heart attack or other complications, particularly in individuals with an underlying cardiovascular issues. “Intense or prolonged exercise can strain the heart, potentially leading to arrhythmias or myocardial infarction, especially if the person has pre-existing conditions like coronary artery disease,”

According to a research study conducted by Barts Heart Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, St George’s Hospital, and University College London (UCL), long-distance running heightens the risk of heart attack and stroke in men while being more beneficial for women. It also finds that, compared to men, running is more beneficial for women. However, women with pre-existing heart conditions are also susceptible to heart attacks while running.

So, running itself doesn’t inherently increase the risk of a heart attack. Rather, various factors contribute to this risk. when done correctly, running is a beneficial exercise. It’s a cost-effective way to maintain fitness and wellness. Make sure you don’t run too much and wear appropriate attire and footwear for a safe running workout.

Why is there a rise in heart attack cases while running or exercising?

There are several mistakes that can heighten the risk of a heart attack during running or exercising:

1. Pushing beyond one’s physical limits can strain the heart and lead to cardiac events.
2. Ignoring symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness and continuing to exercise can be dangerous.
3. Skipping a warm-up before running can shock the cardiovascular system and increase the likelihood of injury.
4. Insufficient hydration impairs blood circulation and raises the risk of heat-related complications.
5. Incorrect running or exercise techniques can strain muscles and stress the heart unnecessarily.
6. Not allowing sufficient rest and recovery time can weaken the heart and increase susceptibility to cardiac issues.

Signs of a heart attack during running

During running, common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that may feel like pressure
  • Pain or discomfort in areas such as the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, or dizziness
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Irregular heartbeats or a racing heartbeat
  • Unusual feelings of indigestion or heartburn

How to reduce the risk of a heart attack during running?

Here are 7 tips to reduce your risk:

  • Undergo a thorough medical evaluation before starting a running regimen. It will help you know your cardiovascular fitness, especially for those with pre-existing heart conditions or risk factors.
  • Start gradually and increase intensity and duration over time. Allow the body to adapt to the physical demands of running.
  • Listen to the body and recognise warning signs of a heart attack during running, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness.
  • Always follow a warm-up and cool-down routine. It will prepare your body for a run and help it cool down after running.
  • Stay hydrated during running sessions.
  • Wear appropriate footwear to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Your lifestyle should be healthy. So, follow a balanced diet and stay stress-free

Running, when done with proper precautions and support, can improve heart health and overall well-being!

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