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)