LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Next Saturday, runners, walkers, and supports of all ages will be lining up for the 18th annual Little Rock Marathon.

Which is why local cardiologists are talking with their patients about heart-health.

Dr. Scott Rypkema is a cardiologist at CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock and a runner.

Dr. Scott Rypkema and his wife after finishing a marathon.

Rypkema says it’s important for runners of all levels, experienced or first-time marathoners, to check in with their heart during the race.

“There are several devices people can use to check their heart rate,” says Dr. Rypkema.

While using a measurement device is a choice, it’s not a requirement says the doctor.

He adds that a person can quickly and easily check their pulse during a race.

“If you don’t have a smartwatch or Fitbit to check your pulse – one way of doing it is with your carotid artery just feeling here in your neck and counting the pulsations for 30 seconds and multiply by two and that is your heart rate for one minute,” says Dr. Rypkema.

Past research has shown that nearly 11 million runners who participated in marathons or half-marathons had cardiac arrest – with 42 of those people dying.

However, Dr. Rypkema says overall running is great for your cardiovascular system.

“Exercising vigorously has been shown to reduce your risk for cardiovascular risks. There may be some studies that show super high-intensity long term exercises may predispose people to certain problems, but that is less than 1% of the population,” he says.

For more information on pulse checks and understanding your resting heart rate, click here.