Researchers found that even some of the world’s best rated athletes are affected by coronary diseases, of which several were qualified as life-threatening. The findings came as a surprise to many heart health experts since the number of heart conditions among elite athletes was unexpectedly high.
The study involved more than 2,300 Olympic game athletes participating in more than 45 sports disciplines. Their health was assessed by the Institute of Sport Medicine and Science of a European Olympic committee. Screening tests involved general physical examinations, ECGs, and echocardiography.
One of the doctors who screened the athletes said that regardless of their physical performance and achievements, many Olympic athletes were affected by one type of heart disease that in some cases even posed a threat to their life.
Of the athletes involved in the study, more than 1,400 were male and about 920 were female with an average age of 27.6. The health of their hearts was assessed to see if they were physically fit to take part in the Olympic games. Screening tests were carried out between 2002 and 2014.
Doctors learned that 171 athletes were affected by a heart condition, which was life-threatening in six cases. So, six athletes were not allowed to participate in the Olympic games.
Other athletes were diagnosed with heart rhythm problems, coronary heart disease or cardiomyopathies. The latter are the most common causes of fatal heart attack, doctors explained. Twenty-four more athletes risked suspension but they eventually took part in the competition under close medical scrutiny.
“It is really surprising that Olympic athletes, who are considered some of the healthiest individuals, should have such significant abnormalities,”
one of the investigators said.
Investigators also said that these abnormalities went undetected for many years because screening technology was not so advanced more than ten years ago. However, doctors were surprised to learn that athletes managed to achieve so much on competitive level despite their heart condition.
Also, researchers concluded that health of professional athletes can no longer be taken for granted. They are exposed to cardiovascular disease as much as the rest of the population and even more because of their strenuous training and inhumane efforts, researchers argued.
Investigators recommend that anyone who wants to take part in competitive sports should first go and have a medical check. Also, researchers suggested that general population should also pay their GP a visit before starting a tiring physical activity especially if they are unfit or live a sedentary life.
Image Source: iO9
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