Being Careful What One Asks For: Slew of Bizarre Heart Attacks Kill Men in Triumphant Moments

I was struck today by a series of stories that caution people to be careful what they ask for. Three stories of men who had heart attacks at different triumphant moments, including one with a newly repaired heart.

In Ravenna, Michigan, Don Doane had just bowled a perfect 300 game. Minutes after achieving the lifetime goal, the 62 year old bowler collapsed and died at Ravenna Bowl in Ravenna. For the full story, click here.

In the meantime, 58-year-old Sao Paulo resident Carlos Jose Gomes reached his goal of finishing the New York marathon this weekend and then died shortly after passing over the finish line. The moment was captured on video.

Chris Nicholls, 23, had only recently had open-heart surgery. He then died shortly after who watching a pornographic movie in England. For the full story, click here.

This is precisely why I tell my family that it is fair safer for everyone if I remain on the couch watching Comedy Central.

[UPDATE: We can now add the Nevada Campaign director for Obama Terence Tolbert, 44, who had a heart attack the day before the election]

9 thoughts on “Being Careful What One Asks For: Slew of Bizarre Heart Attacks Kill Men in Triumphant Moments

  1. I just got word yesterday that a very good friend of 30+ years, 61, died Saturday in Estes Park, CO of a massive heart attack. His triumphant moment came six weeks ago walking his beautiful elder daughter down the aisle in a beautiful setting in San Diego’s Balboa Park. He was so happy, so proud. This was of those rare really fine men there are simply far too few of. He was an Air Force Academy grad, twelve years in the Air Force, retired as a Delta Airlines pilot to his dream town of Estes Park just three years ago. His younger daughter is to be married in May. His story may not be as heroic or ironic as some others, but his lose is tragic to his family and it’s a very fresh wound for us.

  2. Deaths among first-time marathoners are surprisingly common. (I don’t know if Mr. Gomes was a first-timer.) Common enough that I’ve heard that some insurance companies are muttering darly about defining it as a high-risk activity that limits coverage. It usually happens on the course, though, not at the finish line.

    The reason is simple. Running stresses the heart. Short distances (under an hour) are usually safe, but not always. Longer distances if you’re not used to them, pushing yourself, dehydration, etc., will make it more likely for a minor irregularity to become a serious problem. Many people also fail to adequately prepare with a series of long runs approaching, even exceeding, the distance of a marathon. Having been there, I know that there’s tremendous psychological pressure to finish the race after you’ve been training for it for six months.

    It’s an interesting question — is it worth it? Regular running up to 25 miles/week is definitely worth it as long as you don’t have a doctor warning you to stop. The risk of injury is far offset by lowered risk of heart attacks and strokes. Distance running is less clear since you’ve already gotten most of the benefits that you’re going to get, but dramatically increase the risk of injury. On the other hand, a lot of people really get motivated by the challenge of a marathon. That might keep them running instead of getting bored and quitting.

    That’s why the half marathon (13 miles) is growing so popular. 13 miles is still a decent distance but it has a fraction of the impact. The other approach (that I will take next time) is to simply treat the marathon as another run. You can have a “race”, or you can have distance, but not both.

  3. I don’t know if there is a “better” time to have a heart attack, but I guess it would be better to have it after completing a big goal. However, for us more “mature” readers, I would recommend riding a bike. It is less stress on the back and feet, but you still get a great workout. I rode in a bike ride for MS this summer and we(two nephews of mine) rode 35 miles on a Saturday and 41 miles the next day. You could have chosen to ride 50 and 100 per day routes, but I was more than happy to finish the shorter ones. The training before the race was not only necessary to be safe, it was also fun. Don’t forget your helmet and padded shorts!!

  4. rcampbell”

    I am very sorry to hear about your loss. I know of others with similar stories, including Tim Russert.

  5. Ditto, JT and RC…

    As I was reading I was reminded of Tim as well. Actually, I have been every time I see somebody else in his place covering ‘THE’ election and MTP…

  6. rcampbell:

    I join JT with my condolences. The loss of a good man diminishes us all because they are all too rare. Ave atque vale.

  7. This hits close to home with me because I’ve had 3 major heart attacks and congestive heart failure. I had my first one at 37. In 2005 I had a cardiac implant installed that will shock my heart back into rhythm. This February and March I had 2 incidents where I was flatlining and shocked out of it by my ICD. Both times occurred about 5:30am and in the middle of pleasant dreams. Go figure.

    Much of this is the result of my parent’s genetics, but I brought it on myself by smoking 3.5 packs of cigarettes a day and eating artery clogging food. Nevertheless, I’m still around at 64 thanks to modern medicine and great health insurance. We need national health care vitally so surviving isn’t a matter of privilege. Three other points need to be made which are watch your imbibing of noxious substances, take an aspirin a day and if symptoms appear don’t panic. The latter can get you through until the medics arrive.

  8. RCampbell and Mike Spindell,
    First, RCampbell, my condolences for the loss of your friend. Mike Spindell, you are scaring me with the news of your heart troubles. Be sure to take care of yourself and do what the doctors tell you. I lost 40 pounds about 3 years ago when I decided to get off the statins for cholesterol issues and the loss of the weight and the bike riding and better eating habits have dramatically reduced the bad cholesterol and the Triglycerides. Good luck with the aspirin regime! I agree wholeheartedly about the need for a national health insurance.

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