Salazar, 50, has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) to treat arrhythmia.
One of the United States’ premier distance runners, Alberto Salazar was the world’s top-ranked marathoner in 1981 and 1982. During his career he set one world and six U.S. records in distances from 5000 meters to the marathon, won three consecutive New York City marathons (1980-82), and was a member of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic Teams.
Married and a father of three, Salazar currently coaches elite runners for Nike's Oregon Project. He was with three of them on the Nike Campus in Beaverton, Oregon when he collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest on June 30, 2007 and stopped breathing.
Coaches from a nearby football camp administered CPR immediately and paramedics were able to restart his heart with an external defibrillator. He received an ICD before being released from the hospital and has recovered fully, despite going 14 minutes without a pulse.
Today, he continues to coach and has three athletes representing the U.S. at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, including men's and women's 10,000 meter contenders Galen Rupp, Amy Yoder Begley and Kara Goucher. But Salazar is equally committed to spreading the word about running and living safely with a chronic health condition.
“Runners need to know that [heart disease] can happen to anyone, even if you're in great shape. They need to check their blood pressure and cholesterol, and to know their family history. And if anyone's really worried, they should consult with their doctor and consider an exercise stress test.”