Navigation Links
Why athletes are more likely to need pacemakers in old age

A new study by The University of Manchester has shed light on why athletes are more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms.

Elderly athletes with a lifelong history of training and competing in endurance events like marathons, triathlons and iron man challenges can have heart rhythm disturbances, known as arrhythmias.

The Manchester research in rodents, funded by the British Heart Foundation, shows molecular changes in the heart's pacemaker occur in response to exercise training.

The finding, reported in Nature Communications, overturns the commonly held belief that an increased activity of the autonomic nervous system causes this specific reaction to endurance training.

While normal adults have resting heart rates between 60-100 beats per minute, hearts of endurance athletes can beat only 30 times per minute or even lower at night time when there can be long pauses between heart beats.

Cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Miguel Indurain reportedly had resting heart rates of 30 and 28 beats per minute.

Dr Alicia D'Souza, from The University of Manchester and first author on the paper, said: "The heart rate is set by the heart's pacemaker, but this is controlled by the nervous system. The 'vagal' nerves lower the heart rate and therefore it was assumed the low heart rate of athletes is the result of over activity of the vagal nerves.

"But our research shows this is not the case. Actually the heart's pacemaker changes in response to training and in particular there is a decrease in an important pacemaker protein, known as HCN4, and this is responsible for the low heart rate."

The researchers say these molecular changes in the sinus node - the cardiac structure responsible for generating heart rhythm - may help us to understand the more frequent occurrence of heart rhythm disturbances or even loss of consciousness in athletes.

Professor Mark Boyett, lead researcher on the study, added: "This is important because although normally a low resting heart rate of an athlete does not cause problems, elderly athletes with a lifelong training history are more likely to need an artificial electronic pacemaker fitted."

More than 500 marathons take place in Europe and America each year with around one million participants. The number of people taking part is set to increase by 5% each year.

But Professor Boyett said: "Although endurance exercise training can have harmful effects on the heart, it is more than outweighed by the beneficial effects."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This study shows the heart's electrical wiring changes in mice that exercise for long periods, and these changes in heart rhythm are sustained afterwards.

"If the findings are reproduced in humans they could have implications for heart health in older athletes. But much more research is needed before we could draw that conclusion."


Contact: Ali Barbuti
University of Manchester

Related medicine news :

1. Study: Concussion rate in high-school athletes more than doubled in 7-year period
2. Study: Custom-made mouthguards reduce athletes risk of concussion
3. New study finds 2.5 million basketball injuries to high school athletes in 6 seasons
4. Young athletes from higher income families more likely to suffer serious overuse injuries
5. Young athletes with knee pain may turn to meniscus transplant
6. Genetics may explain high-functioning senior athletes with hip abnormalities
7. Sports medicine physical of the future could help athletes ESCAPE sudden cardiac death
8. New NuGo Stronger: First Non-GMO High Protein Bar with rBGH-Free Whey Protein for Serious Athletes
9. Athletes “Toward Injury Prevention in Sports” TIPS Gets Going in Las Vegas
10. How an Internet Start-Up Is Helping Sport Organizations Train Athletes and Raise Money at the Same Time
11. Zensah’s® New Compression Ankle/Calf Sleeves Bring Innovation to Rest and Recovery for Athletes
Post Your Comments:
(Date:12/1/2015)... , ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... 1980s we have seen vast improvements in scientific research and discoveries, leading us ... providing increased hope and relief to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Mediaplanet’s cross-platform edition ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... The ... been lifted as IMAGE Information Systems launches MED-TAB™ -- the world’s first portable ... Meeting from November 29 to December 4, 2015. , MED-TAB is expected ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... must mark the film for accurate interpretation by the radiologist. The marking utensils ... inventor from Sacramento, Calif., has found a way to alleviate this problem. , ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... December 01, ... ... The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) today announced that the organization has ... based in San Francisco, with a Distinguished Award. The award celebrates exceptional special ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... ... Lutronic, a leading innovator of aesthetic and medical laser and energy-based technology, ... in the United States. Clarity is a Superior Dual Wavelength Platform which combines ... single platform that is easy to own and operate. , For over a ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... -- CytRx Corporation (NASDAQ: CYTR ), a biopharmaceutical ... that it has reached its enrollment target of 400 ... trial of aldoxorubicin in patients with previously treated soft ... in Q1 2016. The Phase 3 trial is a randomized, ... from the FDA at 79 sites in ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 1, 2015  InCarda Therapeutics, Inc. (InCarda), a ... of therapies for cardiovascular conditions via the inhalation route, ... in Australia . InCarda is planning ... Australia in the first half of ... medical centers in Adelaide and ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015  Booth #3506 – Claymount is ... the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of ... this year. Based in the Netherlands ... Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR ) and is one ... chambers and solid state automatic exposure control systems for controlling ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: