KUALA LUMPUR, Sports activities are closely related to the level of health but absence of knowledge related to it can be likened to a ticking time bomb, carrying the potential for serious injuries and even tragic loss of life.

Recently, the national sports scene was shaken by the untimely death of a triathlete, with the victim fighting for her life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Sultanah Maliha Hospital in Langkawi, before dying.

The 44-year-old woman was competing in the Ironman Langkawi Malaysia on Oct 7 when she suffered health problems and became unconcsious during the swimming part of the event.

Commenting on the incident, Dr. Ahmad Munawwar Helmi Salim, a Sports Medicine specialist from the National Sports Institute (ISN), emphasised that serious injuries often result from inadequate training and neglect of safety measures, such as proper warm-ups before engaging in sports.

Novice enthusiasts, he noted, are more susceptible to injuries compared to professional athletes or those regularly active in sports

“There is a difference in physiological training between those who are active in sports and those who just take up sports. The active group will often warm up before doing high-intensity activities and training. If not done correctly, it can lead to the risk of serious injury," he told Bernama.

Commenting on sudden death while doing sports, Dr Ahmad Munawwar said the risk exists, but it is rare and usually happens to those involved in high-intensity sports and individuals with a history of heart problems.

“People are often puzzled, how can someone who is actively involved in sports suddenly die during an event? For cases like this, there is relatively less research, but there is a high risk for those with heart problems.

"We find the cause of death to be in two categories; over 35 years due to atherosclerosis, i.e., blocked heart blood vessels. For those under 30, it is due to problems in the electrical system of the heart and structural problems in the heart," he said.

Despite these risks, he said that sports and exercise are important for an individual's health, recommending at least 150 minutes of exercise per week or 30 minutes each in five days of a week.

Meanwhile, Mohd Sadek Mustafa, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Sports Science and Recreation at UiTM Shah Alam, said that besides lack of exercise, the enthusiastic attitude of individuals during sports activities can also contribute to accidents or harm to the individuals involved.

He said that the desire for victory to the point of neglecting safety, as well as stubbornly continuing challenges to win points or cross the finish line when the body signals otherwise, also contributes to serious injuries or death.

"If they are professional athletes, they know when to stop because they know it won't end there... there are many more championships. But for amateur athletes, their satisfaction is when they get medals, jerseys, and money.

“So, they will push beyond their ability limits even though their bodies are actually unable. The capability threshold varies for each individual, but common symptoms include muscle cramps and dizziness," he said.

According to ISN physiologist Chee Lee Ming, with the advancement of sports science today, the body's capability signals can be easily measured using tools such as smartwatches during sports.

“Now many technologies can be used, one of which is heart rate variability (HRV) that can be obtained on smartphone apps for free or for a fee. HRV is a measure of the duration between heartbeats and is also used to measure stress multiplication to adjust the body to exercise and daily activities.

“It can also help an individual check whether their body is ready or not to engage in sports activities," he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency