Heart attack: A type of exercise which increases your risk of the deadly condition

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According to a review published in Circulation, people who engaged in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity leisure activity per week had a 14 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who reported no exercise. That being said, there can be a link between exercise and an increased risk of developing not only coronary heart disease but heart attacks too.

Regular exercise is recommended to improve the cardiovascular health and a reduction in heart attack risk.

However, there is growing evidence that extreme volumes and intensity of long-term exertion may increase the risk of acute cardiac events.

Studies have found a potential risk factor for future cardiovascular events, given the known association between chronic excessive sympathetic activity and increased cardiovascular risk.

In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, extreme exercise on cardiovascular health implications was further analysed.

The study noted: “High-intensity exercise can acutely, albeit transiently, increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or sudden cardiac death (SCD) in individuals with underlying cardiac disease.

“A Canadian study of athletic participants aged 12 to 45 years old found 74 cases with SCA over the course of 18.5 million persons-years of observation, yielding an incidence of 0.76 cases per 100,000 athletes per year.

“A total of 16 SCA cases occurred during competitive sports of which 44 percent survived, whereas 58 cases occurred during non-competitive sports of which 44 percent also survived.

“Recent studies demonstrated that extreme volumes and/or intensities of long-term exercise training are associated with several possible cardiac maladaptation’s.”

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Chronic extreme exercise training and competing in endurance events can lead to heart damage and rhythm disorders, said the Cleveland Clinic.

The site continued: “People with genetic risk factors are especially vulnerable.

“A study done on marathon runners found that even after finishing extreme running events, athletes’ blood samples contain biomarkers associated with heart damage.

“Moreover, research found evidence that high intensity exercise can acutely increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death in individuals with underlying cardiac disease.

“This can also increase the risk of heart rhythm disorders, especially for the minority who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or coronary heart disease.”

Moderate exercise includes activities such as walking, jogging or swimming.

In most cases, moderate activities should leave you free to carry on a conversation while you are active. 

However, if you have symptoms, a history of a heart condition or risk factors for heart disease, check with your doctor before starting or changing an exercise regimen.

High levels of exercise over time may cause stress on the arteries leading to higher coronary artery calcification (CAC), said Dr Jamal Rana, a study author.

“However, this plaque build-up may well be of the more stable kind, and thus less likely to rupture and causes heart attack, which was not evaluated in this study.”

Dr Rana added that they plan to continue following the participants to see how many have heart attacks, other health problems, or die early.
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