Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Autopsy: Ryan Shay Died of Irregular Heartbeat from Enlarged Heart

The autopsy has finally been released for Ryan Shay, the marathon runner who died during the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in New York City last November. The Associated Press is reporting that Shay "died of an irregular heartbeat due to an enlarged heart" and also had previous scarring whose cause couldn't be determined.

LetsRun.com has a short piece on the story that seems to have a direct quote from the New York City medical examiner's office on the cause of death, by way of Shay's father: "Cardiac arrhythmia due to cardiac hypertrophy with patchy fibrosis of undetermined etiology. Natural Causes."

The spokeswoman put it in layman's terms in a phone conversation with Shay's father, according to the Detroit Free Press:

“The heartbeat went into an irregular rhythm due to an enlarged heart with old scars,” Ellen Borakove, public affairs director for the office of the chief medical examiner, told the Free Press in a phone interview. “It’s an unknown source — we’re not able to identify what caused the scaring. “It’s a natural-cause death.”

Shay was diagnosed with an enlarged heart at age 14, but it's not unusual for athletes to have such enlargement. There has been more attention paid to this subject in recent years as there have been a number of high-profile sudden deaths of elite athletes and former athletes, including Army women's basketball coach Maggie Dixon two years ago.

LetsRun.com says that the full report will be released only to the family.

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