Last week I recorded a one-hour webinar entitled “Heart Health and Endurance Sport.” You can download the webinar for free at the USA Triathlon (USAT) website.
The webinar is a consequence of my recent work with USAT regarding race safety. At the conclusion of our work, we felt that USAT was in a position to provide some educational offerings to members of our triathlon community that might lead to safer training and competing for athletes and to better safety and event planning by race organizers.
Obviously the topic is broad and one hour is pretty short. I decided to organize the discussion into 5 topics that I thought were most important:
1. The heart and general health benefits of exercise.
2. The heart’s adaptation to exercise and the “athlete’s heart.”
3. Sports-related sudden cardiac death.
4. Other potential adverse consequences of endurance sport.
5. How to care for your heart for the long term.
Take a listen. I hope there’s some useful information that might let you take better charge of your own heart health and train and race safely. There’s a “homework” project at the end; I’d be happy to hear from you….and so would your athlete friends.
1. USAT Fatality Incidents Study
2. Athletes, Sudden Death, and CPR
3. Recent Safety Initiatives in Triathlon
Ben Greenfield says
Lawrence…I am writing a book rightnow on maintaining health while still competing at a high level in endurance sports. If I wanted to use myself as an N=1 and do a heart test after 10 years of Ironman competition, which test do you think would be MOST useful? Nuclear imaging? Cheers! Ben
Lawrence L. Creswell, M.D. says
Sorry for the slow reply, Ben.
For you, I know that, even with 10 years of endurance sports participation, you are still comparatively young. If you have no other risk factors, your chance of having significant coronary artery disease (CAD) is low. If you have no symptoms suggestive of CAD, it would be unusual to find something abnormal on a nuclear stress test.
But thinking about how to cast a wide net with a single test, perhaps a cardiac MRI would fit the bill. This single test would define the cardiac anatomy, evaluate for any unsuspected congenital structural abnormality, evaluate the function of the chambers and heart valves, offer estimates of the pressures in the heart chambers, evaluate for CAD, and evaluate for any unsuspected fibrosis in the heart’s walls.
That said, there might be better or less expensive single tests if we wanted to focus on the possibility of a PARTICULAR problem that we might suspect (ie, stress testing or coronary arteriography for CAD; echocardiogram for congenital heart disease or valvular heart disease; EKG or Holter monitoring for heart rhythm problems, etc.).
Hope that helps. And good luck with the book!