Friday, March 26, 2010

Marathon running is bad for your heart? Say it isn't so!

I am an avid recreational runner. I am just about to come up on my 2 year anniversary of being a pretty regular runner, see Operation: Marathon. So it was pretty disturbing to see these two abstracts getting press form the 2010 American College of Cardiology:

  1. Researchers have shown that long-term marathon runners, those who have completed at least 25 marathons over the past 25 years, have increased coronary calcium and calcified plaque volume.
  2. A second group did a study which suggested that marathon runners had increased aortic stiffness compared with individuals who exercised recreationally
I would really like to stress that both of these studies do not look at patient oriented endpoints but intermediate end-points. I would hesitate to turn anyone off of exercise, which I tell my patients is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth, until we had data containing hard end-points.

To corroborate that, the first study looked at a number of other cardiovascular risk factors, and all of these pointed to improved cardiovascular risk profiles:
  • lower heart rate
  • lower body weight
  • lower BMI
  • Higher HDL-cholesterol levels
The press release is at this link, but you will need to register to get to the meat.
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