Being fit usually means you’re healthy, right? Well, University of British Columbia researchers have found a concerning health fact about athletes.
They published the results of the study in the BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine journal.
Not even seasoned athletes are safe from cardiovascular disease as they age, and researchers even found that they usually don’t show symptoms.
For example, one of the athletes participating in the study, hockey player Mark Sampson was stunned to hear that he wasn’t as healthy as he previously believed:
“Some high blood pressure, some high cholesterol and it really kinda brought an awareness to the state we were in.”
He and his teammates were equally surprised because they weren’t out of shape and would engage in moderate to high physical activity at least three days a week. Sampson and other 800 “masters athletes” joined the UBC study.
The participants were all runners, cyclists, conditions rowers and hockey players, and many were surprised to see that they had minor or major health, such as coronary artery disease – which is the first cause of cardiac death in masters athletes.
Cardiovascular Disease – Everyone Is at Risk
The lead researcher of the study, Barb Morrison, concluded that:
“Athletes are not immune to cardiovascular disease. In our study, we found that approximately 11 per cent had clinically significant cardiovascular disease, and specifically 10 of those individuals had significant coronary artery disease, so 70 per cent blockage or greater.”
The study’s results show that older athletes cannot “outrun their risk factors,” added Morrison.
Cardiologist Dr. Saul Isserow admits that risk factors cannot be negated, but this doesn’t mean that exercise is bad for us, and it can all depend on other factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol or family history.
Morrison explains that aging athletes should train moderately, concluding that:
“While there’s no evidence suggesting that pushing yourself to the extreme can benefit your heart, we do know it can potentially cause damage.”
The five year UBS study has two more years to provide a more detailed report.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.