20 runners were assessed, with particular attention being placed on the left ventricle of the heart.
The leader of the study, Dr. Eric LaRose (Professor of Cardiology at Laval university in Quebec)), said the link between higher VO2max and less stress on the Cardiovascular system was the key to avoiding heart damage due to marathon running.
Athletes with higher Vo2max (how much O2 can be taken up and used by the body in 1 minute), place less stress on their hearts, and the functioning of the heart, than less conditioned athletes.
The left ventricle is divided into 17 segments, and when one of the segments no longer functions optimally as a result of, say, running a marathon, the other segments take over. The heart appears to be functioning normally, but in realty, it is not.
The study found that athletes who were less well conditioned for the marathon:
- had lower V02 max, so they had lower exercise capacity.
- they became more dehydrated
- their hearts showed greater signs of injury.
- experienced greater loss of function associated with lower blood flow
- showed greater irritation of heart segments.
Take away message: Ensure you are following a well prepared and well structured program that will ensure you are at optimal fitness for your event.
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