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Letters: 2 ways to run a marathon

Did you know there are two ways to run a marathon? A beginning runner needs to train for 22 weeks in order to run the 26.2 miles, according to Christine Luff of the verywell fit web site. Or you can do almost nothing, as I did: have a heart attack.

I noticed one April afternoon that I was having a little difficulty breathing when getting up from my recliner. I thought nothing of it. Usually when I have an ache or pain, I ignore it, and it eventually goes away.

A day or so later, when the arborist came to talk about some tree trimming, I couldn’t walk across the yard without being short of breath. Then I began to wonder.

I brought out my Omron equipment to take my blood pressure. (Of course you might know it needed a new battery, but I finally made it work this time.) I could see that the diastolic number was higher than usual. But what made me suspect something might be wrong was my pulse rate of 135.

I called my cardiologist’s office, but he was not in: possibly good old COVID-19 was to blame there. I asked his assistant about the rapid heartbeat, and if I should go to rapid care. She said yes. I still did nothing; it surely would be better by the next day. Ignorant me.

By the following morning, I knew something was wrong. I called my son, Jim, because my husband, Vic, was in no shape to take me to emergency. So Jim took me, at once, to his favorite hospital, and I was admitted, immediately. (My daughter Joanne asked me why I didn’t call an ambulance.)

It took the emergency room staff the rest of the day to bring my heart beatback to normal.

Later, when I texted my granddaughter, Megan, who is a registered nurse, and knew about my heart attack, answered that she compared the uncontrolled atrial fibrillation to running a marathon, because your heart was essentially quivering at the same rate it would have had you been running. She hoped it made sense. Of course it did.

I know that when you run a marathon, you have a cooling-down period so that your heart rate returns to normal. When you have a heart attack, there is no way without medical help to slow it down. As a nurse in the hospital where I stayed said, your heart just stops. The end.

You can avoid having an experience like mine. You can do all of the things that are recommended for good health, such as eating properly and exercising in your chosen way. But really, key is having regular checkups with your doctor.

I would likely have needed the two stents that were placed in my heart, but it would have been as a preventative measure, and at a chosen time. Best of all, I would not have occupied a space in a hospital bed.

According to “Heart Attack 101,” a paper that came by email to me just today, more than 805,000 people have a heart attack every year. Also, every heart attack can be different, and most often they start slowly. Some signs that you may feel are shortness of breath (me), abdominal discomfort, unusual fatigue, pain or discomfort and many others. Check it out for yourself. The website is

If you experience any of these events, PLEASE CALL 911. It is “better to be safe than sorry,” as the saying goes.

A good thing that came out my experience, is that it proved my family and friends are there for me. I have been given lots of attention due to this event, perhaps because of my age — and maybe not, but I liked it anyway. And I believe with all that I have learned and the support I have received, it still pays to be a senior.

— Viola J. Turner,




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