Ironman training increases risk of heart damage

Research published in European Heart Journal suggests that endurance athletes place their heart at greater risk of ventricular arrhythmia.

The research team at University of Leuven investigated ventricular arrhythmia in endurance athletes, finding it to originate from a dysfunctional right ventricle. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs in the pulmonary circuit.

The researchers, from Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, conclude their paper saying:

“This raises the question whether endurance exercise not only acts as a trigger for these arrhythmias but also as promoter of the RV changes.”

The Times’ David Rose comments, “that endurance sports contribute to changes in the chambers of the heart that can lead to heart attacks”, which appears to read contrary to the researcher’s actual closing sentence.

The research joins a long line of research into the effects of endurance exercise on the heart of athletes, and comes at a time when commentators seem keen to point out the problems associated with engaging in exercise. An equally long line of research investigates the effect of inactivity on the heart, with rising obesity rates and sedentary lifestyle to blame for the ills of the modern world. Both seem to lead to the same conclusion. No matter what you do, you’ll die anyway.