We all know that running is good for our bodies, but a recent report in the March issue of a medical journal suggests too much running can actually damage the heart. At least in middle-aged men.
A 51-year-old physician failed a calcium screening used to measure hardened arteries despite having no coronary risk factors to explain the buildup. Researchers say it”s a first for them: the man seemed in perfect health with no history of heart disease. The culprit, the concluded after further study, was too much running.
Yep, you read that right.
“The case of the running doctor suggests that too much exercise may have the reverse effect in certain people,” according to a widely distributed Bloomberg News report on the American Journal of Cardiology piece. “The patient jogged at least one hour a day for 30 years and ran two marathons every year.”
The doctor’s colleagues at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore tested blood flow through his vessels before and after exercise. It also was matched against 10 other men averaging 41 years old to compare results. The control group”s vessels constricted immediately after exercise but improved an hour later. The running doctor’s vessels stayed constricted during the same period.
Another story on the study carried on the Exduco.com graduate school guide focused on the doctor’s long running streak and notes: “The researchers concluded that the physician’s intense, long-term exercise regime, coupled with a predisposition toward a type of hypertension, contributed to his cardiovascular disease.”
It continues: “In this particular individual, we think that oxidative stress was an important contributor,” says the study’s senior author, Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the medical center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School Of Medicine. “But we also found that this individual has exercise-induced hypertension, which I think is vastly under-diagnosed.”
For those wondering, oxidative stress refers to cell, tissue or organ damage from a class of molecules associated with oxygen metabolism that includes free radicals. It plays a role in varied health disorders, including heart disease, sleep disorders and asthma.
The researchers suggest middle-aged male runners, especially those older than 50, be evaluated to make sure they don”t have similar calcium deposits in their arteries.