The risk of sudden death from triathlons exceeds that from marathons, according to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology's 58th Annual Scientific Session.
Most of the triathlon deaths occurred in males 30 to 55 and were confined to the swimming leg. One plausible theory, says Dr. Kevin M. Harris, lead investigator of the study and director of echocardiography at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, is that in the swim portion which often occurs in lakes, rivers and oceans - it's not as easy for athletes to slow down to rest or signal for help, or for those in need to be spotted by rescue personnel.
"Sudden death occur in all lengths of triathlon races, so a shorter race is not necessarily without risk," says Harris. "A search for ways to make triathlons safer is important - for example, deploying external defibrillators along race courses has helped reduce the risk in marathons."