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An Unexpected Death Rattles the Fitness Community

from The New York Times

The recent death of the tech executive Dave Goldberg, reportedly during a treadmill workout on a vacation, has saddened and rattled the fitness community. The death of Mr. Goldberg, the chief executive of SurveyMonkey and husband of Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, has left many people wondering if the exercise itself might have triggered a serious health event. Was it a heart attack? Another health problem? An unfortunate accident?

While the circumstances surrounding Mr. Goldberg's death are not fully known, the science on exercise and sudden death is both comforting and troubling. Someone who exercises has a much lower risk of dying from heart disease than someone who doesn't. At the same time, it's also true that during exercise, a person has a slightly higher risk of having a heart attack than when he or she is just sitting quietly in a chair.

To learn more about the relationship between exercise and heart risk, I spoke with two experts on the topic: Dr. Michael Blaha, the director of clinical research at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, and Dr. Paul D. Thompson, the chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation. more


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