Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Marathon man goes back to finish line after heart attack


Two days after collapsing in cardiac arrest upon completing the Honolulu Marathon, Koji Takano returned to the finish line on Tuesday -- still wearing the patient wrist band from the hospital.

"You are the most amazing champion of this year's marathon," Honolulu Marathon Association president Jim Barahal said as he presented the experienced Japanese runner with his framed certificate and finisher's medal.

"I appreciate that I am alive," Takano said through an interpreter, thanking his doctors.

Takano, a 39-year-old dentist, went to the finish line shortly after being released from Straub Hospital. He had on not only his wrist ID but the T-shirt he wore when his wife brought him to the hospital.

Takano collapsed into the arms of a doctor Sunday after crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 56 minutes, 34 seconds. He was carried to the medical tent, where doctors detected no pulse or blood pressure, said Barahal, a medical doctor. Doctors used an automatic external defibrillator to restore heartbeat.

Takano did not respond to the first shock, but his heartbeat and blood pressure returned after the second, Barahal said. He was able to talk and was conscious when taken by ambulance to the hospital.

The marathon obtained nine portable machines only 12 days before the race, and had seven at various locations on the 42.2km course.

Barahal doesn't believe Takano had a heart attack and suspects there was no damage to the heart muscle. He said it appeared to be cardiac arrhythmia.

"When this happens during heavy exertion, there usually is an underlying cause, and Mr. Takano needs to have an extensive evaluation when he returns to Japan," Barahal said.

Takano has no history of heart problems and hopes to be cleared to return to running soon.

"In the ambulance, I thought that I didn't finish the race," he said. "I was thinking I wanted to go back and finish."

Takano's wife, Tokiko, also ran the marathon and finished about 40 minutes behind her husband. After a stop at the massage tent, she was informed about her husband.

Takano plans to run this marathon again. Asked if he hopes to improve his time, he smiled and said, "Yes."

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