In people 35 and under the incident is usually the result of a congenital heart defect. But for people 40 and over, it is usually the result of their lifestyle: cholesterol, tobacco, alcohol, and even doping.
On April 16, 44-year-old ex-NHL player Gaétan Duchesne, collapsed in the gym. “He was in great physical shape. To have the heart stop like that is horrifying,” explained his brother Jean-Louis Duchesne in an interview with Le Soleil newspaper.
Duchesne played 1028 NHL games before retiring in 1995. That same year, 25-year-old Jiri Fischer of the Detroit Red Wings had a heart attack during a game. He survived the ordeal but scared thousands of spectators and players alike.
“The risks increase with age, but it remains a rare occurrence,” explains French cardiologist David Houpe. Houpe has conducted a broad overview of the existing documentation on the phenomenon. According to an American study, the incidence of sudden death heart attacks in people training at least ten hours a week is 1 in 200,000 for people under the age of 35. However, that ratio is five times greater for people 40 and over i.e. 1 in 40,000.
In people 35 and under, the incident is usually the result of a congenital heart defect. But for people 40 and over, it is usually the result of their lifestyle: cholesterol, tobacco, alcohol, and even doping.
Dr. Michel Doucet, a cardiologist at the Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal, explains that 25% of heart attacks are fatal. But the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks of not doing exercise. “I recommend exercise to all my patients. Obviously, according to their abilities. A 45-year-old person taking up jogging should not attempt to run a marathon the first year.”
Modern medicine is still unable to predict such an incident. According to Houpe, “the tests we have can not predict the probabilities of such an accident.”