Sunday, December 19, 2010

Marathons Lead To Heart Impairment

Happy holidays, faithful readers!

Running over 26 miles is viewed as one of the great physical challenges in endurance competition. Health science repeatedly shows us that when it comes to athletic competition, a healthy assessment of risks vs benefits is vital in securing safety.

In a recent study from HealthDay News (October 25, 2010), 20 recreational runners with a mean age of 45 underwent MRIs of their hearts before, immediately after, and three months after running in a marathon. Researchers compared the information found to baseline tests of cardio-respiratory fitness and blood chemistry.

The most disheartening finding was impairment in just over half of the muscle in the left ventricle during the race. However, because overall heart function did not decline as a result, it is believed that the non-impaired section of the left ventricle picked up the slack.  The specific types of impairments found were not noted.

The most promising finding was that the more well trained the runner was, the least impaired his/her heart became. It was found that having an aerobic capacity, or VO2max, of 50 ml/kg/min (roughly 14 METs) or higher was best for preventing this left ventricle impairment.

Why does this happen?  According to an interview with the authors, it is speculated that acute inflammation and dehydration were the cause of these problems.  It is important to note that in all 20 participants, heart muscle function returned to normal by the follow-up scan at the three month mark.  (The exact recovery rates are not known.)  While this does not negate the severity of the health risks associated with left ventricle impairement, it is helpful to see that these risks were relatively short-lived in this study.

If you are considering running a marathon, half marathon, or any other race, your Perfect Personal Trainer will gladly implement an appropriate, progressive, and personalized regimen to go about minimizing risks to your heart or other muscles, while improving your run's time and maximizing your enjoyment of the competition!