Carleton Smith had less than two miles to go in last year's Boston marathon when he suddenly collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.
Within seconds, bystanders started CPR on the Louisiana native and kept at it until paramedics could arrive on the scene. He was resuscitated, rushed to the hospital and successfully discharged within days.
Had it not been for those bystanders, Smith's story might not have ended so well, says Dr. Aaron Baggish.
Baggish is associate director of the cardiovascular performance program at the Mass. General, and the chief cardiologist for the Boston marathon.
Marathon running is a great way to improve your health, he says, but the fact there are rare times when running can spur a health emergency. When that happens, the kind of quick action that saved Carleton Smith's life is key.
"It turns our that if you have a cardiac arrest in a public place, like a marathon course, your chances of survival are much better than if say you're at home and no one is around," Baggish said. "But the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest anywhere are still quite small."
That is part of the reason why ahead of this year's marathon, Baggish has been leading a push to get more runners and race spectators trained in CPR.
- Aaron L. Baggish, associate director of the cardiovascular performance program, Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center
This segment aired on April 18, 2011.