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Can endurance training can damage your heart?

Pupils check the quality of a product in their classroom in the Centro de Formacao da Industria Metalurgica e Metalomecanica (CENFIM) vocational training center in Lisbon February 1, 2013. The Portuguese government is looking for additional EU funding to expand these vocational training centres to combat the downturn in the economy and employment. European Union states will meet for the second time on February 7-8 to try and negotiate the nearly 1 trillion euro EU budget for 2014-2020. Previous talks collapsed in November and deep divisions remain over whether and how deeply the budget should be cut to reflect the euro debt crisis and harsh austerity measures being taken to address it. Arguments over farm subsidies and rebates are yet to be resolved as the EU contemplates its first real terms decline in spending. But officials are more confident that a deal will be struck this time. France is the biggest beneficiary of farm subsidies, which accounts for about 40 percent of the total budget. It has been at the heart of attempts to maintain contributions along with newer EU members to the east and countries struggling with crippling debts. However, countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom, which pay far more into the budget than they get back, are pushing for a reduction in an attempt to help balance their national books. Picture taken February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro (PORTUGAL - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT EDUCATION) - RTR3DE7Z
Pupils check the quality of a product in their classroom in the Centro de Formacao da Industria Metalurgica e Metalomecanica (CENFIM) vocational training center in Lisbon February 1, 2013. The Portuguese government is looking for additional EU funding to expand these vocational training centres to combat the downturn in the economy and employment. European Union states will meet for the second time on February 7-8 to try and negotiate the nearly 1 trillion euro EU budget for 2014-2020. Previous talks collapsed in November and deep divisions remain over whether and how deeply the budget should be cut to reflect the euro debt crisis and harsh austerity measures being taken to address it. Arguments over farm subsidies and rebates are yet to be resolved as the EU contemplates its first real terms decline in spending. But officials are more confident that a deal will be struck this time. France is the biggest beneficiary of farm subsidies, which accounts for about 40 percent of the total budget. It has been at the heart of attempts to maintain contributions along with newer EU members to the east and countries struggling with crippling debts. However, countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom, which pay far more into the budget than they get back, are pushing for a reduction in an attempt to help balance their national books. Picture taken February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro (PORTUGAL - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT EDUCATION) - RTR3DE7Z

Washington: Belgium scientists suggest that intensive endurance training could be associated with potential health hazards, including sudden cardiac death.

They have found that the repeated bouts of intensive endurance exercise at the elite level may result in the pathological enlargement of the right ventricle, which, according to the article, is associated with potential health hazards including sudden cardiac death.

The publication was the cause of considerable debate among experts in the medical and sports communities. The findings of the Sports medicine physicians at Saarland University refute the hypothesis proposed by their Belgian colleagues. The Saarland research team could not find any evidence about endurance training causes long-term damage to the right ventricle.

Just a few weeks ago, television channels, newspapers and the internet reported that Dutch professional cyclist Gijs Verdick had died in hospital a week after suffering a double heart attack during a race.

The potential hazards which endurance exercise poses to the heart have been the subject of discussion in the medical community for over a century.

Although there is now general consensus that the enlarged heart of an athlete is a healthy reaction reflecting the adjustment of the organ to regular endurance training, a number of studies seem to suggest that high levels of endurance exercise can cause pathological changes to the structure of the heart.

Furthermore, it has been revealed that they observed enlargement and reduced functionality of the right ventricle in athletes who had taken part in several hours of competitive endurance sport.

Therefore, it has not been clear whether the acute enlargement of the right ventricle after extreme endurance activity, which the Belgian group had identified and which had been frequently discussed among professionals, actually did lead to a potentially life-threatening chronic condition.

The study is published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. (ANI)

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