Don’t Let Age Slow You Down

Marathon running maybe safe for healthy seniors

(RxWiki News) Temporary heart damage can happen to any adult after running a marathon. Test results show that healthy older adults are still able to recover from the cardio stress of running.

A recent study tested healthy runners over the age of 50 for heart damage. Results found no reason the healthy, over-50 crowd should avoid running. Now this is good news!

"Talk to your doctor before running."

Davinder Jassal, MD, associate professor of medicine, radiology and physiology at the University of Manitoba, led an investigation into whether marathon running is safe for older adults.

A total of 25 healthy runners aged 51-59 that ran in the 2010 and 2011 Manitoba Full Marathon volunteered in this small study.

A full marathon is 26.2 miles in length. Cardiovascular and blood tests were done before and after the marathon.

The tests included a cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), which uses radio waves and magnets to create a computerized picture of both moving and still images of the heart.

Another test was a transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), which uses sound waves to reflect a picture of the heart, like an ultrasound.

The final test was a cardiac computed tomography (CCT), which is a sophisticated x-ray that focuses on the heart.

TTEs were done one week before the race, right after and one week later. CMRs were done before the race and within 24 hours of finishing the race. CCTs were done within three months of the race.

Researchers were looking for cardiac biomarkers that would indicate heart dysfunction.

Results found that there was slight swelling in the right side of the heart and a small increase in biomarkers right after the marathon. Everything went back to normal a week later.

Dr. Jassal said, “There was no evidence of permanent heart damage from repeated marathon running in individuals over the age of 50.”

“This is the first study worldwide to use cardiac CT in marathoners over the age of 50 to detect the presence of blocked arteries. Most importantly, repeated endurance stress does not seem to result in permanent myocardial injury in this patient population.”

This study was small and further studies should be done to reproduce these results.  These results were for active, healthy runners.  Running may not be safe for people who are not usually active.

This study was published in August in the Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 22, 2012