Marathons may be safe for the hearts of senior elite runners

August 23, 2012

Topic: Injury prevention

Marathons may be safe for the hearts of senior elite runners.

Individuals aged 50 and older often engage in various physical activities in an effort to stay healthy. These may include marathons. As with any exercise, injury prevention can be a major concern, particularly when it comes to heart health.

However, new research from the University of Manitoba suggests that elite runners aged 50 or older do not experience cardiac symptoms that are any more severe than what is observed in younger athletes.

This conclusion is based on an experiment that included elite elderly participants of the Manitoba Full Marathons in 2010 and 2011. Researchers collected blood samples from their subjects, and also conducted radiological tests of their hearts.

After a marathon, runners aged 50 or older experienced swelling and weakness in the right side of their heart. However, these effects dissipated after a week. Similar results were seen in previous studies on endurance athletes aged 18 to 40 years.

"There was no evidence of permanent heart damage from repeated marathon running in individuals over the age of 50," said primary author Davinder Jassal.

This study is published in the Journal of Cardiovascular MRI.

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