The Fittest Person in the Morgue?

Histopathology. 2012 Feb;60(3):381-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.03852.x. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Abstract

The cardiovascular benefits of regular physical activity are well established (J. Sci. Med. Sport,7, 2004, 6). James Fixx wrote the best-selling book on running entitled The Complete Book of Running (1977), which led to an increase in popularity. However, when Fixx collapsed and died suddenly while running in 1984, people began to consider the adverse effects of sport on cardiac conditions. Going back in time, in 490 bc Phidippides, a young Greek messenger, ran 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens delivering the news of the Greek victory over the Persians, and immediately collapsed and died. This is probably the first recorded incident of sudden death of an athlete running a marathon. According to Noakes (Med. Sci. Sports Exerc.,19, 1987, 187), one of the earliest reports on the association between running and cardiac risk was published in 1909, which claimed that school cross-country races over one mile for boys below the age of 19 years were totally inappropriate, and that the associated stress will cause damage in the heart and other organs. Death in athletes is highly publicized and has a substantial emotional impact on the community at large, given that athletes are perceived as the healthiest segment of society.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Child
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Famous Persons*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Running*
  • Sports Medicine
  • Sports*