A recent study shared by researchers in Rome, EuroPRevent 2015 has revealed that would be Olympic athletes were still at an increased risk of certain heart disease despite the vigorous exercises they do daily.
The data was obtained from 2,354 elite athletes who were competing for the Olympic Games. These athletes were screened for their cardiovascular fitness. The study found that 7.3% of the screened athletes had cardiovascular abnormalities which were life threatening to the extent that they could be disqualified from participating in the Olympics.
Dr. Paulo Adami from the Institute of Sport Medicine and Science of the Italian Olympic Committee said they have studies athletes who were chosen for the Olympic Games between 2004 and 2014
Dr Adami said, “It is really surprising that Olympic athletes, who are considered some of the healthiest individuals, should have significant abnormalities…and that despite these abnormalities they had managed to reach such high competitive levels. In most of the cases, their abnormalities had gone unrecognized because the screenings they had previously were not as extensive and thorough as the ones we applied.”
Since most of the cases with cardiovascular issues had gone unnoticed, researchers have recommended that athletes should also go through heart screening at regular intervals to discern whether or not they are suffering from any life-threatening disease.
The tests carried out include RCG tests when the heart was resting and while exercising. Ultrasound of the heart was also conducted. Post tests the researchers found worrying signs in 300 athletes.
Of these 300 athletes, six were found to be suffering from life threatening ailments which meant they could no longer participate in competitive sports. Another 165 were allowed to participate but with recommendations that they have annual checks on the state of their heart.
However, according to a Medical Daily, the benchmark for cardiovascular assessments for athletes should be different from the standard testing. The athletes undergoing training for competitions are made to go through a more rigorous regimen of exercises and are subjected to stress of a much higher order.
Dr. Michael Knapton from the British Heart Foundation feels that screening of athletes is not very reliable.
Dr. Knapton said via BBC, “We would have to screen an awful lot of people to save one life and in most of those people it might do more harm than good. We could end up stopping ambitious young athletes from following their careers and worry them for no reason. We might also falsely reassure people that they are fine when they are not.”
There is a need for further research for these evaluations to be proven.