The Little Rock Marathon took place on March 2nd. We had a runner, Adam Nickel, collapse after finishing the race in 3:02:26. He was not known to have any medical problems. He finished 18th overall in the marathon.
Autopsy results from the Arkansas Crime Lab, released Monday, indicate that Nickel had a vascular disease known as “multifocal small coronary artery fibromuscular dysplasia,” which means he had small heart arteries that restricted the flow of blood. The small arteries were near a critical part of the heart that regulates electrical impulses.
That, combined with abnormal electrolyte percentage levels that many distance runners experience, including raised potassium percentage levels, led to a significant heart arrhythmia that proved fatal.
Dr. Charles Kokes, the crime lab’s chief medical examiner, said an electrocardiogram could have detected Nickel’s condition, but a physical alone would not.
Many runners might have Nickel’s condition, not know it and still feel fine, Kokes said. In Nickel’s case, the fact that the affected arteries were so near nodes in the heart that control electrical impulses led to the fatal event.