Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Jim Fixx Irony Clarified

Posted by Trixter on March 20, 2006


For years I used to quote Dennis Leary’s routine where he said he would continue to smoke because it didn’t matter how you treated your body because you’d end up like Jim Fixx. As I wrote eariler, Jim Fixx was an avid running enthusiast who suddenly dropped dead while running in his early 50’s. I, too, found this incredibly funny and used his situation as a reason to not run, along with other scary running stories (such as a girl who was so addicted to the endorphin “high” you get while running that she ignored the pain of her shin splints and caused permanent damage, etc.).

Lo and behold, some basic research turns up Jim Fixx’s autopsy, which indicates that he neglected his cholesterol which caused 95% blockage of one artery, 85% of another, and 50% of a third, eventually causing a massive heart attack. So it wasn’t really running that killed him; it was the lack of importance he put on regular cholesterol checkup and maintenance, coupled with a poor family history (a heart attack killed his father at age 42).

So, if anything, Fixx’s running history probably extended his life a few years.

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4 Responses to “Jim Fixx Irony Clarified”

  1. John Fixx said

    Indeed, your surmising is correct. Dr. Mary McQuillen, the Chief Medical Examiner of Vermont, who performed the autopsy on my father, reported that those arteries were so blocked that if his heart had not been so strong from running, he would likely have died a decade or more earlier. We know running added life to Dad’s years. We learned, then, that running also added years to his life.

    But, irony aside, he did in fact ignore some warning signs, we found out, in the months leading to his heart attack.

    I run daily and get checked out by a doctor annually.

  2. Trixter said

    I appreciate your clarification of his condition, and hopefully distributing his running program (see earlier posts) as well as this information will spur more people to exercise more and take better care of themselves.

  3. David Harriman said

    Jim Fixx was a legend, and is THE reason that I started running in 1981/2 after I read his book. It was like someone switched a light on for me, and everything suddenly became clear.
    I still read “The Complete Book of Running” and always gain fresh inspiration from his enthusiasm for the subject. It is still the “runner’s bible” to this day, and I’m sure that he would be impressed that so many people followed his advice at the time, and follow it still.

  4. if you still believe that cholesterol has anything to do with heart attack, you will end up with a heart attack. If you want to avoid a heart attack, read the free preview to my book (it contains all you need to avoid a heart attack). the book is titled Vascular Repair, and it’s available at http://www.thebetterebook.com

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