Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Heart Attack While Swimming - What Are the Factors?

Swimming is good for the heart, but when age and other health issues come into play then it's a different story. Heart attack could trigger drowning which sometimes lifeguards don't seem to notice because victims would tend to go passive then submerge into the water.

There are many factors that trigger heart attack such as stress, lifestyle, diet and so on. Here are 5 main factors that could trigger heart attack while you are in the pool waters.


Heart attack while swimming mostly happens to adults.  Men and women age 50 and up have a high risk of having heart attack while swimming. Risks are higher for people with heart or blood pressure issues or family history of heart related problems.

Before you undergo a swimming or any other exercise plan, it is best that you consult a cardiologist to first know your limitations; this would lead us to number overexertion.


If you're a swimming fan then probably you know Fran Crippen; a well rounded and decorated swimmer. It's quite ironic that a swimmer of Crippen's caliber died of heart attack while competing at FINA Open Water 10-kilometer World Cup at Fujairah, east of Dubai.

Yep, it's a very long swim and could take for hours so it's possible that Crippen's heart wasn't able to hold that long.

However, investigators concluded that the 26 year-old died of "overexertion" or excessive use of energy causing a rapid abnormal heart beat or also known, in medical terms, as tachycardia.

Other competitors complained of the warm water temperatures during the event that might had cause Crippen's exhaustion.


Our body make necessary adjustments depending on the temperature. Whether the water is too warm or cold, it would affect are circulatory system such as heart beat, blood circulation, artery contraction plus oxygen supply.

It is advisable not too beyond 2 hours to prevent body temperature adjustment failures.

Pool Chemicals

Last time I've posted the risk of using pool chemicals and yes, they can also trigger heart attack. Mixed chemicals can diffuse into the air and can affect the breathing especially of those with heart problems.

Other health issues

People that have blood pressure issues should have a proper swimming routine that wouldn't affect their condition. People with asthma or other lung related problems should also be cautious.

Whether you have medical record of heart problems or none, it is advisable not to swim alone - heart attacks occur without warning. Stay in areas where the lifeguard can see you.

What to do if you feel you will have an heart attack while swimming?

Although chest pain is not always a symptom of heart attack, whenever you experience that burning feeling in the upper part of your body then you should stop whatever you are doing and seek attention immediately. Remember that panicking could worsen the situation. 

Coughing doesn't prevent heart attack but it would prevent you from being unconscious until help arrives. Taking an aspirin would be helpful but if it's out of your reach then let the coughing continue and, if possible, raise your arms until someone notice you.

Knowing  if you have heart problems is the best way to survive a heart attack. Most people would think that just because the disease doesn't run in the family, they wouldn't bother knowing the disease and would ignore the fact that they may still become victims and the next thing they'll know is they are struggling for air in unexpected situations.


  1. I go to aerobics in the the pool once per week. it lasts one hour If i can't get into a class i swim for around 40 mins.I do suffer from heart disease and i am a diabetic with high blood pressure and not so good arteries i am 64 years old and after reading this i am frightened to go swimming again.

  2. Thanks for sharing these risk factors. Just last year my older sister was swimming in an exercise pool in her backyard when she suffered a heart attack. Thankfully her husband was also in the backyard noticed her quickly. It really can be a scary situation, understand your limitations. Thanks again!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. i have MVP- my doctor told me though that its not really life threatining... However, I work at night and out in the morning... I usually swim after my shift, so that's on daytime... Will that affect my health.. I dont only do swimming, but I do yoga, biking and running... Hope to hear from you...

  5. By the way... I experienced a painful chest pain after my swimming... This what happened.. On sunday, I joined a 5k run, monday i swam (sea) and on wednesday morning i swam again, but this time in the pool... After swiming of 500 meters, i had to stop because i feel a chest pain... That's why I stopped and on that night i had to be absent in my work because of the pain I am experiencing... I could harldy breath, i had chest pain, my left chest sore and chills...

  6. maggie.danhakl@healthline.comApril 17, 2014 at 4:19 PM


    Healthline recently put together an infograph showcasing heart disease statistics and facts to help someone understand their risk for a heart attack or other heart-related issues. You can see the infograhic here: http://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease-infographic

    I am writing to you to see if you can help spread awareness about heart disease by sharing this with your followers or including it as a resource on your page: http://poolaccidents.blogspot.com/2011/04/heart-attack-while-swimming-what-are.html

    Please let me know if you would be interested in helping to raise awareness about heart disease.

    Thank you for your time reviewing. Please let me know if there are any questions I can answer.

    Warm regards,
    Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
    p: 415-281-3124 f: 415-281-3199

    Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
    www.healthline.com | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

    About Us: corp.healthline.com

  7. I never realized that a pool can be dangerous! This is why it is important to never go swimming alone. It is also vital to be trained or have trained professionals check the chemical levels of the pool. http://www.imperialpaddock.com/products_and_equipment.html

  8. I really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.

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  10. In 2008 I was suffering from heart disease. During those days I was unable to run or even sometime perform normal activates. I knew this was going to something worse and then It happened. It was a heart attack. I recovered from it. Now I have changed by eating and drinking habits and have joined several heath related plan like at www.doctorbing.com . I am really fortunate that I am now living a healthy life.

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