Runner’s Alert: Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Day: 4th Feb, the night before me and my dad were extremely motivated to do an early morning workout instead of our regular evening workouts. In all that excitement, we left our house not realizing that the gym is shut on Monday mornings. Disappointed but not willing to waste our time, we headed to five gardens for a walk-jog not realizing what it had in store for us.

We were at our 4th ( each round being 800mts). My dad was happily surprised to see this area booming with activity contributed by old, young and middle-aged man alike. A few meters down, we saw a person (mostly a runner, let’s call him Mr. Runner) collapsed on the road with 5-10 people surrounding him. One of them was trying to give him chest compressions. I rushed to the spot.

Confusion had ensued. People didn’t know of him, about him. Turns out he was running/walking/jogging alone. Few of them found an ID and a cell phone. And the other few were trying to call an ambulance. While I was trying to find a pulse, radial pulse was very feeble, the person had extremely labored breathing. Without further ado, I continued the compressions. I knew we needed to get him to a hospital soon. So, without waiting for the ambulance, people loaded the person in the taxi. I soon realized I didn’t have any money or cell phone on me. I borrowed some money from the people around and rushed the person to S.R. Mehta Hospital. Sadly, being in the taxi didn’t allow me to give any compressions. Mr. Runner had stopped breathing on our way. I was in desperation trying to call people he has recently called. Thankfully his phone was unlocked and one of his friends picked up the early morning call and passed the message onto his family all of whom resided in Pune.

Reaching the hospital took 5 minutes, taking him up to the emergency another 2 minutes. Meanwhile, his daughter got the news and was calling him on his phone. I talked to the daughter explaining what happened and soon the doctor requested to talk to a relative. He was proclaimed dead.

I, being a Sports Physio, never get into positions where I have to deal with life and death. This was my second. First one was with my father, and he is ok now. This one was an unknown person but that didn’t make it any easier. After consoling his daughter and giving my details to the hospital in case they needed to contact me, I went back to the five gardens where my dad was waiting for me. This experience made me realize a few important things.

If Mr. Runner didn’t have his ID card on him and his phone unlocked, it would have been extremely difficult to identify the person and call his family. In spite of his phone being unlocked, only after dialing 3 recently called people, the third one picked up and that guy knew the family and had his daughter’s number on him. How could this entire process be made easy? Here’s a solution.

Runners often run around in different areas and by lanes. It is important to have something with you that identifies you in case of an emergency. Most of us have those tiny pockets in our shorts or slacks that could fit in a paper with the following details.

  • Name
  • Emergency Contact Details
  • Area of Residence
  • Medical Details like Blood Group and any important condition diagnosed with.

For Eg: Mr. A, Wife: # 123456789, Juhu, A+, Diabetes

For those running with their phones on them, can save these details on their phone screen and feed in emergency dial numbers accessible without unlocking the phone.

With respect to those running with their watches, I wish there was some way to put up all the emergency details that could be easily accessible. It’s extremely important that companies make some provision for this.

And with all due fairness, you might think this won’t happen to you. You probably are someone who gets regular checkups done. And are someone who eats healthy and stays fit.

So was Mr. Runner, he was someone who did yoga and was extremely fit. He worked at a high rank in the Indian Intelligence Bureau. He had his medical checkups done regularly. But, incidences like these happen and more so, they are now on an upward trend.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is described as an event that is non-traumatic, non-violent, unexpected and resulting from sudden cardiac arrest within six hours of previously witnessed normal health [1,2,3]. It is a rare but tragic condition usually precipitated by physical activity which occurs not only in athletes but in all people.

The only way to prepare yourself for an incident like this is to be aware of how we can help ourselves first and then learn how to help others.

P.S. The Incidence is reported to my best knowledge. The concerned Mr. Runner was as per sighted by other people. Kindly remember I reached when the person was already subconscious. The family mentioned that he didn’t run but would brisk walk 9 -12 km per day. He didn’t have any prior history of major cardiac abnormality. Although he was diagnosed with some ECG abnormalities, 5-6 years ago, nature unknown and resolved with medications.


1.Cross B J, Estes M, Link M S. Sudden cardiac death in young athletes and nonathletes. Curr opin crit care. 2011;17:328–334. [PubMed]

2.Pugh A, Bourke J P, Kunadian V. Sudden cardiac death among competitive adult athletes: a review. Postgrad Med J. 2012
[Epub ahead of print.] [PubMed]

3.Sharma S, Whyte G, McKenna W J. Sudden death from cardiovascular disease in young athletes: fact or fiction?. BR J Sports Med. 1997;31:269–276. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Published by hemaliphysio

Ortho & Sports Physio, The Movement Analyst

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