A new Canadian study shows that even the most appropriate middle-aged adults may be at risk for cardiovascular disease – and they often show no symptoms. The results show that 11 percent of a sample of "middle-aged" champion athletes had significant cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that include narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina)
The study, published in the journal BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine emphasizes how important it is for middle-aged athletes to examine the doctor for cardiovascular risk, especially if they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a family history of cardiovascular disease.
"We all know that exercise is good for us ̵
"But even if you're really active, our results suggest that you still can not escape your risk factors."
For the study, UBC researchers followed 798 "Masters athletes", adults ages 35 and older who participate in moderate to severe physical activity at least three days per week. Participants included a range of athletes, from runners to cyclists, triathletes, rowers and hockey players.
The researchers asked participants a series of questions about their health, family history and physical activity, and also measured their blood pressure and waist circumference. Some participants also completed a stress test. Those with abnormal results had more tests, such as: A CT coronary angiogram to determine if they had cardiovascular disease.
Of the 798 athletes, 94 (11 percent) had significant cardiovascular disease. Ten athletes were diagnosed as having severe coronary artery disease (an artery blockage of 70 percent or more), although they had no symptoms.
The new findings are based on some previous research that suggests a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease peers with similar risk factors. Previous studies have also shown that master athletes typically have more calcified plaque compared to non-athletes, which is known to be more stable and less likely to cause a heart attack.
Nevertheless, Morrison emphasizes that the results do not do this, my master athletes should stop exercising. She recommends that people have regular check-ups, including blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring, especially if they have a heart attack or stroke in the family.
"The good news is that cardiovascular disease is treatable," she said. "Drugs have been shown to lower mortality risk, and even more so in people who are active."
It's also important to practice moderation when it comes to exercise, she added. "There's no evidence that training can make you live longer or make your heart stronger, but if you take it to the extreme, it could do some harm," Morrison said.
"You should never push yourself so hard that you can not train the next day."
Source: University of British Columbia