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Attention runners: This is why you need to have your heart tested while you're running, not why you're resting…

by , 05 June 2015

According to a new study conducted by Australian and Belgian researchers, you must be tested for potentially deadly heart rhythms if you're a runner when you're running… Not when you're resting.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, urges that no runner (especially not those of you who run endurance events, marathons of triathlons) ignore this urgent health warning.

Keep reading to find out more about it.

Heart assessments need to be done while you’re running

The study authors explain that currently, most heart assessments are done on runners while they’re resting – and that’s the problem.
 
Study leader Dr Andre La Gerche, head of sports cardiology at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, explains: “You don’t test a racing car while it’s sitting in the garage. Similarly, you can’t assess an athlete’s heart until you assess it under the stress of exercise.”
 
Dr La Gerche and his team tested the performance of the hearts of 17 endurance runners with right ventricular arrhythmias (a heart muscle problem), 10 runners with healthy hearts and seven non-runners.
 
They found that heart function during rest was similar in all three groups. However, during exercise, it was different among the heart-healthy athletes compared to the other two groups…
 
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Dr La Gerche reports: “By measuring the blood pressure in the lungs and the body during exercise, we have shown that the right side of the heart has to increase its work more than the left side. Hence, the right side of the heart is a potential ‘weak link’ in athletes.”
 
“In normal healthy athletes, the right side of the heart was able to manage the increased work requirements. In the athletes with arrhythmias, the right side of the heart was weak during exercise – it couldn’t handle the increase in work and we could detect problems accurately that weren’t apparent at rest,” he adds.
 

If you’re a runner, please test your heart…

The team say that their findings show that people who think they have healthy functioning hearts might not. 
 
Dr La Gerche urges all runners to test their hearts while they’re running. “Don’t do it while you’re at rest,” he stresses.

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