Marathon training 'causes heart damage in healthy people'

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New York, Mar 18 (ANI): Training for marathons can cause formerly healthy people to develop cardiovascular problems like increased blood pressure and stiffness in the aorta, says a new study.

"The cardiovascular system is like a sports car engine," said lead researcher Despina Kardara of the Athens Medical School and Hippokration Hospital in Athens in a statement released with the study. "If you do not use it, it will decay, but if you run it too fast for too long, you might burn out."

In the study, 49 marathon runners took part. In order to prepare for the 26.2-mile race, the participants trained about 10 to 19 hours a week over periods ranging from two to 20 years.

Then they were compared to a group of 46 people of similar age, height and risk factors who weren't endurance athletes.

Researchers measured stiffness in the runners' aortas using pulse wave velocity, and found that marathon runners had higher than average wave velocity, indicating an increased risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, reports The New York Daily News.

"Stiffening simply means that when the heart contracts your blood pressure goes up more than it would in someone with less stiff arteries," Paul D. Thompson, M.D., the director of cardiology at Hartford Hospital, told AOL Health.

However, Thompson added: "This is a paper that is new and novel, and we'll take a look at it."

He told AOL Health: "It has been known for years that even though exercise is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, when you're actually engaged in the physical activity, the risk of eath goes up." (ANI)

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