Prior to beginning the training program, participants underwent a full medical evaluation that included cardiopulmonary exercise stress testing, heart imaging studies and cholesterol screening. Just over half of study participants (24 of 45) had at least one cardiovascular risk factor including high cholesterol, high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease. Participants were re-evaluated at the end of the training program prior to running the marathon.
Participation in the 18-week program led to significant overall changes in key determinants of cardiovascular risk. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, known as "bad" cholesterol, was reduced by 5 percent; total cholesterol fell 4 percent, and triglycerides dropped 15 percent. There was also a 1 percent decrease in body mass index, and a 4 percent increase in peak oxygen consumption, a measurement of cardiorespiratory fitness, which is a potent prognostic marker of cardiovascular mortality.
"Overall, participants experienced cardiac remodeling improvements in the size, shape, structure and function of the heart," Zilinski said. "Even with a relatively healthy population that was not exercise nave, our study participants still had overall improvements in key indices of heart health."
Zilinski said the study underscores the potential for regular exercise to improve risk factors for heart disease, but cautions that individuals should always check with their health care provider prior to participating in a rigorous training program.
The study was designed to focus on middle-aged, recreational male runners, a population previously identified as being at highest risk for adverse cardiovascular events during marathon running, so the applicability of the results to other populations such as recreational female runners or el
|Contact: Beth Casteel|
American College of Cardiology