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Atrial fibrillation in endurance athletes still poses problems for sports cardiologists
Date:6/21/2009

The fulfilment which so many people increasingly derive from competitive sports and endurance training comes with a real even if rare twist. Because, while most people will enjoy the benefits and pleasures of exercise, there are a few for whom regular athletic training will increase the risk of cardiac arrhythmias and even sudden death, especially among those in middle-age or with pre-existing cardiac diseases.

"It's for this reason that sports medicine has focused on pre-participation screening," says Dr Luis Mont from the Hospital Clnic de Barcelona, Spain, "in an attempt to detect any hidden heart disease." On the other hand, disturbances in heart rhythm, particularly atrial fibrillation, which represent one of the major cardiovascular reasons for hospital admission, is more common among cyclists, marathon runners and other athletes with a long history of endurance training.

Dr Mont reports that atrial fibrillation is more frequent in middle-aged individuals who formerly took part in competitive sports and continue to be active, or simply in those involved in regular endurance training without having actually participated in competitive sports. "So we have to look at the effects of endurance or athletic training with a more open view," says Dr Mont.

However, he adds that the cost-effectiveness of routine pre-participation screening in a broad population of athletes and endurance sports participants has not yet been clarified. A debate on the subject takes place at this Congress on Sunday 21st June at 16.00.

What does seem clearer, however, is that long-term endurance sport participation may well increase the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, sinus node dysfunction, and right ventricular premature beats. "Given the fact that an increasing number of individuals engage in regular endurance sports," says Dr Mont, "it is certainly of great interest to define which recommendatio
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Contact: ESC Press Office
press@escardio.org
33-062-241-8492
European Society of Cardiology
Source:Eurekalert

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