Participation in marathons, half-marathons and triathlons has skyrocketed the past 30 years. The popularity of these and other endurance sports is at an all-time high. In 1976, 25,000 Americans ran in marathons, compared with 2 million participants in 2010. Last year, 1.2 million athletes participated in triathlons.
While the benefits of moderate-to-vigorous exercise are well documented, is participation in the popular high-volume, high-intensity sports too much of a good thing? During the 2009 Detroit Free Press Marathon three runners died of heart-related problems.
“Exercise both protects and provokes cardiovascular events,“ explains Justin Trivax, M.D., runner, cardiologist and co-medical director, Beaumont’s Cardiovascular Performance Clinic. “Our new clinic offers specialized services for healthy men and women or all ages, as well as those with known or suspected heart disease.”
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated the incidences and outcomes of cardiac events in nearly 11 million marathon runners over a 10-year period. Of 59 cases of exertion-related cardiac arrest, 42, or 71 percent, were fatal. The investigators concluded that cardiac complications among recreational athletes could be reduced with a systematic, cost-effective, medically-directed approach to screening for underlying cardiovascular disease.
“In the last 20 years, remarkable technological advances and increased knowledge of the effects of prolonged strenuous exercise, including distance running, triathlons, cycling, swimming and paddling, have allowed us to provide athletes with an accurate assessment of their fitness,” explains Harold Friedman, M.D., cardiologist and co-medical director, Beaumont’s Cardiovascular Performance Clinic. “Of special interest, is their heart-lung fitness. We now have the tools to offer each athlete who undergo our core examination a prescription to safely improve their physical performance. Each athlete will receive counseling and specific training recommendations.”
Beaumont’s Cardiovascular Performance Clinic, located at the Beaumont Health Center in Royal Oak, is believed to be the first-of-its-kind in Michigan offering athletes specialized heart screening, counseling and training. It is staffed by a team which includes: cardiologists, sports medicine physicians, exercise physiologists, cardiac rehabilitation specialists, dietitians, athletic trainers and researchers.
The basic screening package, known as the core examination, is $300 and includes:
Cardiovascular history and physical with cardiologist
- 12-lead electrocardiogram
- An echocardiogram, or ultrasound image of the heart, to assess cardiac function and screen for structural abnormalities
- Cardiopulmonary exercise stress testing with direct measurement of aerobic capacity, or VO2 max
- Consultations focusing on fitness/performance and healthy eating
- Additional evaluations may be recommended and include coronary calcium scoring and the Heart and Vascular Screening. Body composition assessment and nutritional consults are also available.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 248-655-5750.
The clinic’s medical team will provide pre-participation physicals for students, amateur and professional athletes with and without known heart disease or structural cardiovascular abnormalities. This includes athletes with a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator who want to continue to participate in sports.
Adds Dr. Friedman, “We look forward to working with area athletes and their physicians to address their training questions, increasing the safety of their vigorous exercise, while optimizing their physical performance potential and overall cardiovascular health.”
Source: Beaumont Health System