Wednesday July 24, 2019

Going in for long-distance running? Get your heart screened first

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New Delhi: Are you in your 40s and eager to run your first half-marathon or are even contemplating entering into the 42 km heart-pounding endurance challenge?

Running_womanWell, hold the adrenaline rush. First, take some key tests–especially related to heart–before you hit the road with your running shoes.

In the past five years or so, field experts, and middle-aged Indians have picked up on the growing popularity of long-distance running, thanks to celebrity runners like Milind Soman, and are joining half-marathons or full races over the weekends in surging numbers.

However, a proper health screening is a must before any professional run, cardiologists warn, to rule out any underlying condition that may have serious consequences for your life.

According to Dr Lekha Phatak, head (cardiology) at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai, running is good for the heart but middle-age people must go for a thorough cardiac check up and begin the regimen slowly.

“Nowadays, we do not guide middle-age people to run or jog. Running is good for younger people and I personally do not advise middle-aged people for long-distance running,” she told IANS.

Anyone who has run a marathon can witness the wear and tear on his body – especially heart.

“If a runner indulges in ‘chronic exercising,’ he or she needs to be extra cautious as it may have several damaging effects on the heart like irregular heartbeat, stiff heart muscles and building up of scar tissues on the heart,” cautions Dr Sanjat Chiwane, cardiology consultant from Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurgaon.

It is important not to compromise on heart health while increasing endurance.

“Take a professional consultation before preparing yourself for strenuous running activities. Many studies have suggested that marathons put unusual stress on the heart so one should not participate in it frequently,” adds Dr Chiwane.

“Those with high blood pressure, we direct them not to run or take part in any marathon,” stresses Dr Pathak.

The best precaution is to let yourself know how much is your limit.

“Assuming that for 30 years of your life, you never exercised or led an active life and suddenly you decide to go for the run. It will certainly affect your body and muscles,” explains Dr TS Kler, executive director (cardiac sciences) at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre in New Delhi.

There have been several deaths, mostly of people who are in their 40s, during the long-distance run in the recent past.

In July this year, a 43-year-old man collapsed and died while running for a marathon in Borivali, Mumbai. Doctors blamed existing ailments that spiked due to exercising and sudden pressure on the organs.

In February this year, a young techie lost his life due to cardiac arrest while running the half-marathon in Bengaluru.

A senior executive in a bank suffered cardiac arrest while running the Mumbai marathon in January last year. After being in comatose for nine months, he died.

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In the US last year, two runners collapsed and died near the finish lines of half-marathons while a third runner collapsed and had to be resuscitated after completing the New York City half-marathon.

A study in the past has also found the link between sudden cardiac death and marathon running. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers found that marathon runners may harbour underlying and potentially lethal cardiovascular disease.

Although the risk of sudden cardiac death associated with such intense physical activity was one in 50,000, proper health screening is required to ensure that you are not that ill-fated person.

“Pre-participation medical evaluations are recommended before any strenuous sports activity to identify cardiovascular disease that has the potential to cause sudden cardiac death, stroke, angina or heart failure,” elaborates Dr S S Sibia, director of the well-known Sibia Medical Centre in Ludhiana.

Before you decide to run, tests like “ECG, treadmill, echo and a complete blood profile are required,” advises Dr Subhash Chandra, chairman (cardiology) at BLK Heart Centre in New Delhi.

“Those with abnormal lipid profile, hypertension, smokers and diabetics should be considered as having increased health risk for marathons,” adds Dr Sibia.

However, what experts recommend for a normal and healthy middle-aged person is to jog or run three km a day on five days a week.

“Sixty minutes of running is more than enough for a day. Give yourself a rest for a day in a week to calm your muscles,” stresses Dr Chiwane.

If you have made up your mind for the long-duration run, pay heed to these precautions:

First, consult the doctor to find out if your body is eligible to run marathon or not. Prepare yourself not just physically but mentally as well. Maintain your nutritional stores to keep your body fit. Take a break or two during marathons to rest your body, the experts emphasise. Keep yourself well hydrated, do not go overboard in your enthusiasm and look at the bigger picture.

Last but not the least, hire a good trainer who can give you a head start after examining your health thoroughly.

(IANS)

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Study: Intake of Dietary Supplements May do More Harm than Benefit

The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet

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dietary supplements
According to the study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk. Pixabay

Researchers have found that intake of some vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements may not benefit the heart and, in some cases, may even prove to be injurious.

According to the study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk. However, there was no evidence that calcium or vitamin D taken alone had any health risks or benefits.

“Our analysis carries a simple message that although there may be some evidence that a few interventions have an impact on death and cardiovascular health, the vast majority of multivitamins, minerals and different types of diets had no measurable effect on survival or cardiovascular disease risk reduction,” said study lead author Safi U. Khan, Assistant Professor at the West Virginia University.

For the study, the researchers used data from 277 randomised clinical trials that evaluated 16 vitamins or other supplements and eight diets for their association with mortality or heart conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

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“People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements,” Michos said. Wikimedia Commons

They included data gathered on 992,129 research participants worldwide. The analysis showed possible health benefits only from a low-salt diet, omega-3 fatty acid supplements and possibly folic acid supplements for some people.

“The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements isn’t there,” said senior author of the study Erin Michos from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.

“People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements,” Michos said.

According to Abhishek Singh, Consultant Cardiologist at Columbia Asia Hospital in Ghaziabad, dietary supplements do not have a measurably positive impact on cardiac health.

dietary supplements
The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet. Pixabay

“It’s more important to follow a healthy dietary regimen and avoid foods that are bad for the heart. Trans fatty acids are harmful and have to be curtailed. Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates are to be kept at a minimum,” Singh told IANS.

The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet. They are rich in vitamin K and dietary nitrates, which help protect the arteries and reduce blood pressure, he said.

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“Studies like this raise concerns about harm from calcium and Vitamin D supplement use. As far as Vitamin D supplements (without calcium) are concerned, there has been no evidence on whether it has any impact on cardiovascular disease risk reduction,” Anupama Singh, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Vimhans Nayati Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi, told IANS.

“The quality of the evidence base of these various nutritional supplements and dietary interventions still needs to be evaluated to ascertain the effectiveness of the study,” she added. (IANS)