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Friday, March 14, 2014

Heart Damage Resulting From Long Bouts Of Aerobic Training


Long bouts of aerobic training pose numerous health hazards to certain individuals. Some people are not affected by long aerobic sessions while others suffer all types of issues. Health hazards can range from simple strained muscles and soreness all the way to sudden cardiac death. The risk of heart damage possibly resulting in sudden cardiac death is the single most serious problem associated with performing too much aerobic training in a single bout. And while everyone may not die from long bouts of aerobic activity, there is sufficient data available to show that the possibility of heart damage to some degree is likely (Leers, M., Schepers, R., Baumgartena, R., 2006).

There are numerous studies which look at the increase in the risk and occurrence of heart and muscle damage associated with long bouts of aerobic activity. Most of these studies were centered on long distance endurance events such as marathon running. While there are many conflicting results from these studies, there is growing evidence that muscle and heart damage occurs more frequently than previously thought (Javier, V., Suárez, C., Fernández, V., Campo, D., Valdivielso, F., Ravé, J., Santos-García, D., 2011).

Many studies show that clinical markers of heart health indicate that heart damage in addition to skeletal muscle damage occurs as a result of long aerobic sessions (Leers, M., Schepers, R., Baumgartena, R., 2006). 


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy appears to be the leading cause of death in both athletes and long distance runners. And while the number of total deaths is low, they are steadily rising as participation numbers in endurance events continue to climb. While the majority of people who participate in long bouts of aerobic training are statistically safe, the threat is very real and warrants medical clearance and follow up checks (Kim, J., Malhotra, R., Chiampas, G., D'Hemecourt, P., Troyanos, C., Cianca, J., Smith, R., Wang, T., Roberts, W., Thompson, P., M.D., Baggish, A., 2012).

Damaging the heart muscle with the possibility of death, is the single most serious problem associated with too much aerobic training in a single bout. Sudden cardiac death is becoming more prevalent, especially amongst athletes, as most sports require a high level of aerobic activity with varying intensities. It may have always been present but there is an increased awareness of sudden cardiac death now due to the obvious nature of injuries and deaths that occur in public forums with spectators and media coverage. 

Cardiac screening is becoming more common due to the realized risks involved with long or intense bouts of aerobic activity. It is now recommended that everyone receive a cardiac screening prior to engaging in sports or other demanding aerobic training (Harmon, K., Asif, I., Klossner, D., Drezner, J., 2011).

References:

Javier, V., Suárez, C., Fernández, V., Campo, D., Valdivielso, F., Ravé, J., Santos-García, D. (2011). Analysis of selected physiological performance determinants and muscle damage in a 24-hour ultra-endurance relay race. International SportMed Journal, Vol.12 No.4, pp. 179-186.

Leers, M., Schepers, R., Baumgartena, R. (2006). Effects of a long-distance run on cardiac markers in healthy athletes. Clinical Chemistry & Laboratory Medicine, 44(8):999–1003.

Harmon, K., Asif, I., Klossner, D., Drezner, J. (2011). Incidence of Sudden Cardiac Death in National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletes. American Heart Association, Circulation. 123:1594-1600.

Kim, J., Malhotra, R., Chiampas, G., D'Hemecourt, P., Troyanos, C., Cianca, J., Smith, R., Wang, T., Roberts, W., Thompson, P., M.D., Baggish, A. (2012). Cardiac Arrest during Long-Distance Running Races. New England Journal of Medicine, 366:130-140.

Eric Dempsey
NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Weight Loss Specialist
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