Doctors call for postponing Delhi Half Marathon

The marathon is scheduled to start from 5.30 a.m. on October 21.

The marathon is scheduled to start from 5.30 a.m. on October 21.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy


‘Runners at risk of lung infections due to high air pollution’

With the air quality index (AQI) in the city hovering in the “poor” to “very poor” range over the past few days, doctors have called for the immediate postponement of the Delhi Half Marathon to a time when the air pollution clears up.

K.K. Aggarwal, president of the Heart Care Foundation of India, said: “The Delhi Half Marathon is scheduled to start from 5.30 a.m. on October 21... a time when pollution levels are likely to be extremely high. Air pollution is a well-recognised health hazard.”

In a release issued on Tuesday, Dr. Aggarwal said that poor air quality can aggravate asthma and other existing lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“High PM2.5 levels can increase blood pressure and risk of acute cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. Patients with existing heart diseases are at risk of sudden cardiac death. Air pollution will not only affect the performance of the runners, but may have adverse health consequences, and even for the healthy participants, organisers, and volunteers,” he said.

“The Heart Care Foundation of India appeals to the organisers to take into consideration the air quality at the time of the marathon so that no runner suffers any adverse health effects on account of exposure to hazardous levels of air pollution,” read the release.

A high level of PM10 has a significant correlation with reduced performance in marathon runners. Under normal breathing conditions, PM10 is filtered through the nose. But during exercise, one breathes through the mouth due to which the pollutants are not removed and enter the lungs.

Puneet Khanna, senior consultant and head of Interventional Pulmonology, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, said that with winter approaching, smog increases in Delhi.

“Peaks in air pollution often irritates the upper and lower respiratory system making it harder to breathe besides aggravating symptoms of asthma,” he said.

“In combination with the onset of viral infections, this has led to heavy rush in out-patient departments, increased emergency room visits, hospitalisations and deaths. Similar to the trends of previous years, we are seeing an average 30% rise in our hospital visits in last few weeks which is gradually increasing. During smog periods, these people should avoid intense physical activity outdoors particularly in morning and evening hours. They should venture out if absolutely essential and preferably wear an N95 mask during peak hours,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 11:38:13 AM |

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