Study: Marathons May Delay Medical Care for Others Along Route

Marathons can be risky for hearts, but not necessarily those of the runners. A new Harvard Medical study finds that it takes longer for nearby residents to get to a hospital for heart care on race day and they're less likely to survive.

"Out of 100 people who have cardiac arrest or heart attack, four more would die if they had the event on a marathon," said Dr. Anupam Jena of the Harvard Medical School.

Jena lead the study and says it focuses on 11 cities, including Boston, and people aged 65 or older. He says the timing of the study was coincidental to Monday's 121st running of the Boston Marathon.

"I think it's because of delays in care, road closures, other large infrastructure disruptions that happen during marathons and it makes it harder for people to get to the hospital," he said.

Gordon Moriarty, a Newton resident said, he believes there is actually a lot of trained professionals along the marathon route.

"There's a lot of medical professionals along the route, a number of Red Cross stations, so while I understand there's traffic issues, there may be more access to trained personnel," Moriarty said.

Newton Fire officials said in addition to months of planning, they add extra ambulances for homes along the marathon route and stage ambulances on both sides of the road while mapping out alternative directions ahead of time.

Newton Wellesley Hospital also has a back entrance, which fire officials say is just as fast to access.

Jena says some of the delays may be due to people driving themselves to hospital.

"Once an ambulance picks up somebody they are still delayed in getting to the hospital. The time it takes goes up 30 percent," Jena said.

Despite the study, Jena feels that Boston is better prepared than other cities.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the study Wednesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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