Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In response to Bee Lok: 6 reasons for sudden death whilst jogging

Bee Lok

Let me attempt to answer your questions (Lily, please comment if you disagree). There are 6 points to consider:

1. Health. He could have a undetected, undiagnosed heart problem (here’s where Lily is urging everyone to go for a heart scan to determine the degree of blockage of our heart arteries) and when he over exerts (can’t be because the ST report said the joggers were running at their own pace), his heart could not take it. Again, his son said he ran 4x a week and had no known medical condition. Hence, medical reason is unlikely.

2. Acclimatization to the place. He arrived on Oct 1 2009; he collapsed and died on 26 Oct 2009. How many times had he run in this unfamiliar terrain before his fatal run? What was the weather there like? Lesson for us: Know your terrain and route well; 100 runs, 100 victories.

3. Too many worries on his mind when he ran. Worries kill the heart and can cause heart arteries to go into spasm. (The Hokkien word for worries is (frozen heart 结心; Choon Chiang, right or wrong?). Lesson for us: when you run, relax….don’t let your problems and worries wear you down. One the one hand you are running (and supposed to be relaxing), on the other hand, you are worrying (which send your heart into spasm). An example of collapse due to frozen heart 结心 is when a person, especially the elderly, hears a bad news on the phone, he or she collapses….the heart can’t take it…hence, it goes into spasm. Hence we need to know what were his worries when he was running.

4. Too competitive; was there a challenge between him and his colleagues although it was supposed to be “run at your pace.” We know competition, especially the unhealthy ones, causes stress and the heart can go into spasm under stress. Hence, I like the accolade you heap on me: “the slowest and the most relaxed runner.” (Side comment: Strange thing, when you fall into the extreme ends of the spectrum, you are likely to be featured in the media!!!!. The mediocre don’t get noticed.)

5. Other factors: only God knows……

6. Finally, for those who think things are destined…’s time’s up……very morbid idea though.

Yong Guan (dated 27 Oct 2009 0900hrs)


  1. Comments from Seng Cheong:

    Frankly, I tend to think item no.6 is the best answer and on the
    contrary...not morbid at all.
    We can do all the health checks we want and its still not
    full-proof..we just improve the odds..even with CT scans..As to not to
    try too hard when running, well, when is it too hard?..Similarly, how
    much worry is too much worry?
    I always tell my non-running friends when we are discussing lifestyle
    and fitess that as fit as I like to think I am at this point of time,
    I can still die on my next run..that is a factual possibility.
    So the best is to do the best we each think we can in terms of
    prevention but never get too paranoid and never forget that die we
    must..some day, any day!

  2. From Lily

    Well, there are many ways to die..arberden??!! But we are now only
    discussing sudden death from a heart attack during running / exercising..

    It boils down to risk factors that we can’t control: age, gender, genes.
    and that we can control: lifestyle, smoking (single most important factor),
    weight, diet, exercise, cholesterols, blood pressure, diabetes (with
    or without medication) just need to monitor closely and keep them
    well-controlled , stress (can/ cannot control?? Some can control by keeping it bottled
    up.."kek si"..Some cannot control, just blow their top.."kek si" others
    around them. Some need to see a psychiatrist).

    We have reached the age where our arteries are getting clogged up by the 50
    odd years of indiscretion. It is no point being in denial, not wanting to
    fix what is not broke simply because I have been able to do all these Sunday
    runs and more..half, full marathons. But my point is,you won't know unless
    you check. It is better to go and have a baseline check of your
    cholesterols, CT coronary angiogram and if there is any problem, get them
    fixed earlier. At 50,60,70% blockage, you may not present with any
    symptoms..yet. But the plaques slowly build up. Then one of those runs when
    you are feeling good and decided to just "chong" for it, that is when it can
    cause problems and cause one to literally drop dead.

    Like the army guy, Dollah Kassim, and others. All supposedly very fit,
    exercising very often.

    I am only addressing those in their 50's.

  3. From Choon Chiang

    Yes, frozen heart 结心 is the term for feeling sad, the opposite of clear heart 清心 which means feeling happy 。Also, many people worry 烦恼 or "huang lor" too much. Just like the daughter- in-law who worries that the day has not brightened, the duck has not laid eggs, the husband's younger sister has no dowry for marriage and the husband's younger brother has no bed when taking a wife ( 有隔烦恼天抹光, 有隔烦恼鸭无卵, 烦恼小姑要嫁无嫁妆, 烦恼小叔仔要娶无眠床 ).

    With such worries, one definitely can die when running.

  4. its sad to know that another known friend die in foot ball game. Sivalingam, the foot ball coach of singapore youth team.

    both the 1st warrant Nathan and Sivalingam were from the SAF regular, soft spoken, kind and alway doing their best in the feild they are in.

    they die at a very young age (50). if these incident are prevented. they can still contributing to the well being of thir family, junior or organisation. its a great lost to many.

    Dr Ang surely knew them during his army time. perhap Dr Ang can contribute by providing some tips or advise to the runers especially the older one.

    thank u.