Have you ever wondered what would happen if you exercised more than normal?
Regular and moderate exercise is of paramount importance to good health — for prevention of heart attacks, strokes, for better management of diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, sexual performances — but the somersault side of excessive exercise training can result into Athletic Heart Syndrome (AHS).
What Causes AHS?
AHS occurs due to excess wasting away of the heart muscle. Typically, it is described as increased heart muscle mass, increased chamber dimensions and wall thickness. Generally, AHS is a far more efficient heart than a normal heart. It is characterized by slow heart rate. The heart muscle hypertrophy is the same as seen in biceps or arm muscles after continued weight training. The muscle fibres of the heart increase in length, diameter and number with prolonged endurance training like long-distance running, dancing, weight lifting and sports. The muscles become thickened by pressure overloads like weight training, rowing, etc. These changes in heart are different from pathological hypertrophy of the heart muscle.
How can AHS be Diagnosed?
Most athletes with AHS have no symptoms. It gets diagnosed by an abnormal ECG, X-ray and echocardiography. Most tests get normalised after some years of stopping the exercise. High-level training athletes should be aware of AHS. If breathlessness, chest pains occur, they should be evaluated. AHS should not be a cause of concern to any employment. After cessation of athletic activity, most heart-related changes will changes to normal, over a period of months.
Some known Facts about AHS:
- AHS is a common syndrome and is not life threatning.
- Abnormal ECG and abnormal echo cardiography in an athlete should alert us about AHS.
- Employment, marriage and day-to-day life are absolutely not a problem with AHS.
- High-level athletes should have a periodic check for AHS.
- If detected early, the training programme can be altered.
- After cessation of high-level activity, many of the changes due to AHS can get reversed in a period of months or years.
- AHS is not a familial or genetically transmitted ailment.
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