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  • Writer's pictureCasey Lunt

Sports are unhealthy?!

Lifesavers Preventative Health Screenings believes that engaging in sports and physical activities is generally beneficial for cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and other cardiac issues. However, there are specific circumstances where sports can increase the risk of cardiac problems:

1. Undiagnosed Heart Conditions

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): A common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes. The heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it harder for the heart to pump blood.

  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC): A condition where the muscle of the right ventricle is replaced by fatty and fibrous tissue, leading to arrhythmias.

  • Congenital Heart Defects: Undiagnosed congenital heart issues can pose serious risks during intense physical activity.

2. Overtraining and Intense Physical Exertion

  • Overtraining Syndrome: Excessive physical training without adequate rest can lead to chronic fatigue, increased resting heart rate, and higher risk of cardiac issues.

  • Acute Cardiac Events: Intense and prolonged physical exertion can sometimes trigger acute cardiac events, particularly in individuals with underlying heart conditions.

3. Electrolyte Imbalances

  • Dehydration and Electrolyte Loss: Intensive exercise, especially in hot environments, can lead to significant loss of electrolytes (e.g., potassium, magnesium), which are crucial for maintaining heart rhythm.

  • Hyponatremia: Excessive fluid intake without adequate electrolyte replacement can lead to dangerously low sodium levels, affecting heart function.

4. Use of Performance-Enhancing Substances

  • Anabolic Steroids and Stimulants: These substances can increase blood pressure, cause abnormal heart rhythms, and enlarge the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

  • Energy Drinks and Supplements: High caffeine and other stimulant intake can lead to arrhythmias and elevated blood pressure.

5. Age and Previous Cardiac Events

  • Older Athletes: Middle-aged and older individuals engaging in high-intensity sports are at a higher risk of heart attacks, particularly if they have existing coronary artery disease.

  • History of Cardiac Events: Individuals with a history of heart disease or cardiac events need to exercise caution and often require medical clearance before engaging in intense physical activities.

6. Inadequate Warm-up and Cool-down

  • Sudden Exertion: Engaging in intense exercise without proper warm-up can strain the heart.

  • Improper Cool-down: Stopping exercise abruptly without a cool-down period can lead to blood pooling in the extremities, reducing blood flow to the heart and potentially causing arrhythmias.

7. Environmental Factors

  • Extreme Temperatures: Exercising in very hot or cold conditions can place additional stress on the cardiovascular system.

  • Altitude: High-altitude sports can affect oxygen availability, increasing cardiac strain.

While the benefits of regular physical activity for overall heart health are well-documented, it's important for individuals to be aware of their own health status, listen to their bodies, and seek medical advice when necessary, especially if they have known risk factors for cardiac issues. Contact Lifesavers Preventative Health Screenings for an assessment of your child's

heart with ultrasound.

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