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The feasibility of continuous ECG surveillance of marathon athletes

The condition of an athlete's heart has for the first time been accurately monitored throughout the duration of a marathon race. The real-time monitoring was achieved by continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) surveillance and data transfer over the public mobile phone network to a telemedicine centre along the marathon route. This new development in cardiac testing in endurance athletes, said investigators, "would allow instantaneous diagnosis of potentially fatal rhythm disorders".

Following trails in two marathon races, the investigators now describe online ECG surveillance as feasible and "a promising preventive concept". They explain in their first report of the technique how "in the case of life-threateningarrhythmias, the emergency services located along the running track could be alerted to take the runners at risk out of the race and start extended cardiologic diagnostics and treatment".