In today’s October 15, 2013 edition of the Journal of Physiology, there is an interesting edition of CrossTalk. A regular feature at the Journal, CrossTalk offers experts a chance to do a point/counterpoint on a given topic, along with the chance for rebuttal as well reader comments.
Today’s topic is: Prolonged intense exercise training does/does not lead to myocardial (heart) damage.
The short pieces are pretty accessible, even for non-medical or non-scientifically inclined readers. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read them. In concise, 2-page articles the authors summarize the body of evidence for and against the hypothesis.
The PRO side (DOES lead to heart damage) is authored by Drs. Eduard Gausch and Stanley Nattel from the Montreal Heart Institute.
The CON side (DOES NOT lead to heart damage) is authored by Drs. Jonathan Ruiz, Michael Joyner, and Alejandro Lucia from the University of Granada, Mayo Clinic, and the European University and Research Institute, respectively.
This is a timely discussion. The potential for heart injury with extreme forms of exercise over the long term has certainly been a hot topic in the popular press. The controversy captures our attention because of the tremendous increase in participation in marathons and long distance triathlons. From today’s CrossTalk you’ll see that there may be very legitimate differences of opinion when it comes to conclusions from the that facts that are currently known.
You’ll also see mention of the current gaps in our knowledge that will frame future research. There are many pertinent unanswered questions that everyday endurance athletes would like answers for.
My best advice is to stay tuned. Be informed. The answers will come. For now, athletes who are participating in amounts of endurance exercise that exceed typical recommendations for healthy living should pay careful attention as new information becomes available.