Extreme sports can damage the heart
Extreme exercise can cause permanent damage to the heart, according to a new report from the US.
A routine of regular exercise is very effective for preventing and treating many common chronic diseases. It also improves heart health and longevity.
However, chronic training for, and competing in, extreme endurance events - such as marathons, 'ironman' distance triathlons, and very long-distance bicycle races - can lead to scarring of the heart and enlarged ventricles, the US researchers say.
Most people participating in these extreme sports recover within a week. But, some people may permanently change the structure of the heart and large arteries - for the worst.
Over months and years of repetitive injury caused by these extreme sports, some individuals can develop arrhythmias (an abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the heart).
Long-term excessive sustained exercise may also cause other heart problems such as the stiffening of artery walls.
Lead author of the report, Dr James O'Keefe, from St Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, said: "exercise can be highly effective in both the prevention and treatment of many diseases, including coronary heart disease and obesity.
"However, a safe upper-dose limit potentially exists, beyond which the adverse effects of physical exercise, outweigh the benefits."
The review of studies was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
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[Posted: Fri 08/06/2012]