This past weekend at San Francisco's annual marathon, race medical doctors gave a new app that keeps tabs on runners' health a trial run.
Reported in Runner's World on July 31, the app, RunSafe, is designed to improve the medical care of road races around the country, and potentially beyond.
Before the race, runners complete an optional online medical questionnaire, listing allergies, medications, and chronic conditions such as asthma or heart disease, as well as emergency contact information. The data is stored in a database that is accessible only to race medical staff via a smartphone.
"Normally we have to treat a runner kind of blindly," said Anthony Luke, M.D., the San Francisco marathon's medical director, who developed the application. But the app puts medical history data right into the medical staff's hands, allowing first responders to "provide better, more specific care, with greater confidence," writes Runner's World.
The app could also provide runners with peace of mind. Despite the fact that incidents of cardiac arrests in distance races are rare, in such an emergency, quick access to medical information is vital. In a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that 59 runners out of nearly 11 million suffered a heart attack in half marathons and marathons from 2000 to 2010, as cited by Runner's World.
A separate, unrelated app available for runners is iRun Safe, which lets you create an "emergency runner information card" with all your medical data, allowing your iPhone to speak for you in the event of an emergency.