Athletes and Heart Disease: Is There a Link?


Exercise has many health benefits for the heart. However, people with various cardiac conditions are at higher risk of experiencing cardiac arrest during exercise or athletic competitions. A lot of research has shown people who do minimal exercise significantly reduce their chances of experiencing heart problems and other risk factors like high blood pressure, obesity, and lipids.

Unfortunately, many other reports identify several heart diseases as key causes of sudden death in many athletes before 35 years old. The reports take note that most of the deaths occur while the athletes are exercising on the field or when engaged in the competition.

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Main causes of sudden heart attack

According to reports, the main courses of sudden cardiac arrest in athlets is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, commonly referred to as HCM. It is a condition where the heart’s muscles thicken until they become too stiff to supply the heart with enough blood.

Due to this, it becomes impossible for the heart to pump enough blood to supply the body with enough oxygen. This is what leads to the sudden failure of the athlete’s heart. Surprisingly, health experts and researchers advise mild exercise as the main thing for a healthy heart, including HCM.

At least 4% of athletes have heart disorders

A report by Reuters shows that a recent study on Italian athletes showed that at least 4 percent of them have heart disorders. Although the percentages may seem low, the complications can be extreme. Another screening was done in a different country in 2014. Out of 2,300 athletes screened, 92 were found to have various heart conditions. Some of the conditions were inherited, including hypertension, coronary artery condition, and other conditions.

Importance of the right diet

According to health experts, the right diet is significant to a healthy heart. Athletes who choose healthy foods such as eating sushi have various advantages. It helps influence blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, and sugar levels. These are considered high-risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Regardless of the conditions, not every abnormality can be termed a disease, and not every condition can be termed life-threatening. Most heart abnormalities in young are treatable. They can help reverse serious conditions. Early screening is crucial so that conditions can be detected early. Regardless of these concerns, sudden deaths due to heart attacks are rare among athletes. In the US, about 100 athletes die annually, which should be an issue of concern among medical experts.