With marathon season winding down (NYC marathon is 11/1) there is an ongoing debate in the medical field over the effect the 26-mile race has on the heart. Some scientists are claiming that running a marathon causes long lasting damage to the heart, while others say the damage is only temporary and is brought on by the extreme physical demands of the race.
Last year studies were conducted in Australia, Canada, and Germany measuring the effect running a marathon had on the hearts of elite to novice runners. Tests were given on the participants immediately before and after running a marathon. The end findings were similar across the board — the participants showed marked blood indicators of cardiac damage.
“We measure those same blood markers when someone comes in to the emergency room and we suspect a heart attack,” says Davinder S. Jassal, MD, an assistant professor of cardiology, radiology, and physiology at the University of Manitoba as told to the New York Times. Blood profiles like those displayed by the runners are similar to those in a very mild heart attack.”
Those scientists that oppose the findings, site that the research is premature and the studies were too small. They also say that accurate results cannot be determined since researchers in the original studies did not follow up with any of the participants after the race day. A later second study conducted in Canada seems to support this claim — a week after completing a marathon, researchers followed up with the runners and found none of the initial damage was lasting.
As the debate continues please keep in mind that running long distances is definitely taxing on the heart. Check out our tips to avoid any risks while training and share your own tips with us below.