Nav: Home

Running multiple marathons does not increase risk of atherosclerosis

June 07, 2017

Sophia Antipolis, 7 June 2017: Running multiple marathons does not increase the risk of atherosclerosis, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.1

"There has been a debate over whether intensive endurance exercise such as marathon running may be dangerous for the heart," said lead author Dr Axel Pressler, Head of the Prevention Centre, Technical University of Munich, Germany. "Previous studies found that after running a marathon, the same cardiac biomarkers were acutely elevated as after a heart attack."

"Other research discovered increased coronary atherosclerosis in marathon runners as a potential chronic consequence of running" he continued. "However, this may have been due to exposure to traditional risk factors such as current or past smoking."

This study aimed to find out whether running itself could induce the early development of atherosclerosis. It therefore included only healthy men without any history of cardiovascular risk factors such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension or smoking.

Pre-atherosclerotic changes to the function and structure of the blood vessels were evaluated by increased stiffness of the arteries, increased intima-media-thickness (due to early atherosclerosis), and endothelial dysfunction, which indicates an impaired reaction of the vessel to blood flow.

The study included 97 participants of the 2013 Munich marathon who had already completed multiple events. Each participant did an exercise capacity test to measure peak oxygen uptake, and gave their training history. The finishing time for the marathon was recorded for each runner.

Measurements of arterial stiffness, intima-media-thickness, and endothelial dysfunction were taken before and after the event.

Prior to the current marathon, participants had successfully finished a median of 11 running events which included half marathons, full marathons, and ultramarathons. The average weekly and annual training distances were 59 km and 1 639 km, respectively.

Runners had normal mean values for arterial stiffness, intima-media-thickness, and endothelial dysfunction. There was no association between exercise capacity, marathon finishing time, number of completed races, or weekly and annual training distances with arterial stiffness, intima-media-thickness, or endothelial dysfunction.

The only characteristic of the runners that was independently associated with the three measurements of pre-atherosclerosis was age.

"When we get older our arteries get stiffer and are not so elastic anymore," said Dr Pressler. "Our study shows that runners who have finished 20 marathons do not have stiffer arteries or more impaired vessel function than people of the same age who have finished five or zero marathons."

"We can conclude that marathon running itself is not a risk factor for atherosclerosis," continued Dr Pressler. "It appears that you can run as many marathons as you want and not be in danger of developing impaired blood vessel function or atherosclerosis."

While running multiple marathons did not have a deleterious effect on the blood vessels, it did not have a positive effect either. Dr Pressler said: "Running had a neutral effect on the blood vessels. The state of the blood vessels in these runners depended solely on their age."

The findings are good news for runners, but Dr Pressler warned that marathons do put strain on the body and participants should ensure they are prepared through training, nutrition, and appropriate hydration.

He concluded: "Many people are interested in marathon running and are doing ambitious recreational sports. Our study shows that running multiple marathons is not risk factor for atherosclerosis."
-end-


European Society of Cardiology

Related Atherosclerosis Articles:

Atherosclerosis -- How a microRNA protects vascular integrity
Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers have discovered a hitherto unknown molecular function of a specific microRNA that preserves integrity of the endothelium and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis progresses rapidly in healthy people from the age of 40
A CNIC study published in JACC demonstrates that atheroma plaques extend rapidly in the arteries of asymptomatic individuals aged between 40 and 50 years participating in the PESA-CNIC-Santander study.
Discovery may illuminate a missing link between atherosclerosis and aging
Using a preclinical model of atherosclerosis, Feinberg and colleagues have uncovered a long, noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that may point the way toward new therapies for atherosclerosis and shed light on why the likelihood of the disease increases with age.
Scaling up a nanoimmunotherapy for atherosclerosis through preclinical testing
By integrating translational imaging techniques with improvements to production methods, Tina Binderup and colleagues have scaled up a promising nanoimmunotherapy for atherosclerosis in mice, rabbits and pigs -- surmounting a major obstacle in nanomedicine.
Bladder drug linked to atherosclerosis in mice
A drug used in the treatment of overactive bladder can accelerate atheroclerosis in mice, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden report in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
A new therapeutic target for blocking early atherosclerosis in progeria
Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares and the Universidad de Oviedo have discovered a new molecular mechanism involved in the premature development of atherosclerosis in mice with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
Protective mechanism against atherosclerosis discovered
Immune cells promoting inflammation play a crucial role in the development of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis: Stopped on time
For the first time, LMU researchers are pointing out the influence of the internal clock on atherosclerosis.
New actors identified in atherosclerosis
Stroke and heart attack are the leading cause of death in the Western world.
Running multiple marathons does not increase risk of atherosclerosis
Running multiple marathons does not increase the risk of atherosclerosis, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
More Atherosclerosis News and Atherosclerosis Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.