CONVERSATIONS FOR THE HEART – Is Exercise Safe for Me? PART 2
“I AM AN AVID FITNESS BUFF. COULD I HAVE RISK OF HEART DISEASE?”
Even seemingly fit athletes of any age can have heart disease and not even know it (you can also refer to the last 2 blogs on student athletes and sudden cardiac death and exercise safety in adults). Once you are over 35 years of age, your risk factors become even more important. One small study even found that some marathoners that had no known coronary artery disease had some evidence of disease by CT (cat scan) of coronary arteries. Since the blockages were not severe, they did not have symptoms.
However, in the runners that had one or more risk factors, they showed enlarging “soft” plaque right after running. This is the type of plaque that is prone to rupturing. These same runners also had elevated high sensitivity C reactive protein which is a measurement of inflammation. Although this was a small study it’s important to pay attention to risk. Even elite athletes shouldn’t hesitate to have regular checkups.
If you have symptoms or risk factors for heart disease your doctor may recommend some testing before you embark on an exercise program. Also, if you plan on a significant increase in the intensity of your current training regimen it’s worthwhile to have a check-up.
Your evaluation will depend on whether you have symptoms or risk factors. An EKG can be helpful, but a stress test may be needed to evaluate what happens during exercise. If you have a family history of heart or blood vessel disease it is very important to be checked for high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. There are also more advanced blood tests that are helpful to determine cardiac risk factors.
We applaud your dedication to fitness, it is such an important part of staying healthy.
Our goal at Center for Optimal Health is promoting overall health. If we can be of help to you, please call us at (517) 324-9400.
For more on exercise and cardiac health, check out our blogs:
Written by: Alicia Williams, D.O.
Dr. Alicia Williams is an Integrative Cardiologist at The Center for Optimal Health and offers cardiac screenings for athletes age 16 and older. Call (517) 324-9400 to set up your cardiac screening with Dr. Williams at The Center for Optimal Health in East Lansing, Michigan.
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