Tags: Heart Disease | exercise | heart attack | cardiovascular disease | heart failure

Can Too Much Exercise Harm Your Heart?

Can Too Much Exercise Harm Your Heart?
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By    |   Wednesday, 06 December 2017 01:07 PM

“No pain, no gain,” the old saying goes. But when it comes to your heart, too much exercise can do more harm than good.

A pair of new studies shows that two much exercise may be damaging to the heart, setting the stage for a heart attack or premature death.

“We’ve always viewed exercise as generally beneficial to our cardiovascular system, but these studies show that working out too much – or too hard – may be damaging,” renowned cardiologist Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.

Traditionally, all exercise was seen as beneficial to the body’s cardiovascular system, says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

“These studies don’t surprise me, as the results mirror what I’ve been seeing in my practice over the past few years,” adds Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report.

In October, a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that white men who worked out more than the current federal recommendations were more likely to develop premature heart disease.

A team of researchers, led by scientists from the University of Illinois and Kaiser Permanente, tracked the exercise habits of more than 3,000 people over 25 years.

People were split into three groups based on whether they met the national physical activity guidelines, failed to reach them, or exceeded them.

Adults gain most of these health benefits when they do the equivalent of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week, federal guidelines say.

Compared to people who exercised moderately, those who hit the gym for longer than 7.5 hours per week — three times more than guidelines call for — had a 27 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease by middle age.

But that risk climbed to 86 percent for white men. The researchers did not know why this group was disproportionately affected, they said.

A second study, presented at the Radiological Society of America’s annual meeting in November, showed that competitive male triathletes could be at risk of developing myocardial fibrosis.

Myocardial fibrosis is scarring on the heart muscle, which may impair its pumping function and lead to congestive heart failure.

The study, which involved both male and female elite athletes, found that the condition occurred in 30 percent of the men studied, but none of the women, the researchers found.

The male participants completed significantly more triathlons, both Iron Man and middle distance than the female athletes. This suggests that the risk is likely associated with increased exercise intensity, the researchers concluded.

According to Crandall, the tendency to over exercise stems from the culture of the 1960s and 1970s, when the idea of running as a way to achieve peak physical fitness caught on.

“Prior to this, exercise was done in moderation, which is the way you should do it,” says Crandall. “But now, even though they look fit, I have patients in their 50s and 60s who were marathon runners and now have the same degree of coronary heart disease that I see in my much older patients.”

According to Crandall, exercising too much, or too intensely, results in the body releasing cortisol, the “stress” hormone. This causes chronic bodily inflammation, which can damage the coronary artery, leading to the buildup of plaque, which narrows blood vessels, and can lead to heart attack.

In addition, excessive exercise can damage the heart’s electrical system.

“This puts patients at risk of developing irregular heartbeats, or even sudden cardiac death,” he says.

Crandall recommends that his patients exercise by taking a one-hour walk every day, or engage in similarly moderate activity, as well as performing thrice-weekly strength-building sessions.

“Our bodies were not built for continuous running or other forms of physical overuse; they were built for moderation,” he says.

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Most people believe the more you exercise, the healthier your heart will be, but new studies show that overdoing it can lead to cardiac damage. How much exercise do you need? Here’s a primer on exercise pros and cons.
exercise, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, heart failure
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 01:07 PM
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