Regular sport changes our hearts

Regular exercise slows the heart rate and increases the size of the heart cavities. Any athlete over the age of 12 years, who starts a sports activity, must undergo a cardiological assessment.

The practice of physical exercise on a regular basis, especially in specialties in which the aerobic or resistance component predominates, such as running or the race and the bicycle, produces a series of beneficial adaptations for the cardiovascular system.

Regular sport: beneficial adaptations of the heart

"The main ones are the slowing down of the heart rate, an increase in the cardiac cavities, a slight thickening of the thicknesses of the heart walls, improvement of the systolic and diastolic function and improvement of the vascularization, both of the myocardium and of the musculature. active peripheral, "explains the Dr. Luis Serratosa, head of the Sports Medicine service of University Hospital Quirónsalud Madrid, and co-director of the book Cardio Sport.


"All these adaptations have a clear impact on the improvement of functional capacity, not only for sports performance, but also for activities of daily life, as well as to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially ischemic heart disease."

The sport practice, even the one that is performed at a high intensity and for many years implies numerous benefits for the cardiovascular system and, therefore, for caring for the heart, "only an increase in the incidence of atrial fibrillation in athletes has been demonstrated. who have done high intensity endurance sport for many years, although the cause of this higher incidence is not entirely clear ".


Cardiological assessment: essential before you start doing sports

To avoid any problem, Dr. Serratosa recommends that "all athletes and those who want to start in sports practice undergo a cardiological assessment from 12 years.

The assessment should include a detailed clinical history looking for symptoms of suspicion, such as palpitations, chest pain, dizziness or syncope associated with exertion. We also have to look for a history of sudden death or hereditary heart disease in first-degree relatives and a physical examination in which we try to rule out the presence of abnormal murmurs. Together with these tests, a resting electrocardiogram must be performed. "

There are other tests, such as echocardiography or stress test (holter, cardioresonance, stress echo, genetic study or electro-physiological study) that should be done depending on the level of the athlete, the finding of the basic tests and the type of activity.


Marina Berrio
Advice: Dr. Luis Serratosa, head of the Sports Medicine service of the University Hospital Quirónsalud Madrid

Video: What Happens to your Heart when you Exercise - The Human Body - A User's Guide


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