People who indulge in rigorous physical training for a prolonged period of time every day, usually suffer from athletic heart syndrome. Find more about this condition in the following article.
Our heart pumps blood to different parts of the body. This is a rhythmic process and is done at a definite rate. This rate can be found out by measuring the resting rate of the heart. It is the number of heartbeats measured in the duration of one minute when the person is at rest but awake. But the resting heart rate for athletes is lower than the resting rate of a normal person. The normal resting rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute whereas for an athlete it is somewhere between 50 to 60. This lowered heart rate is because of the enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart. This may cause athletic heart syndrome which is also known as athletic heart or athletic bradycardia.
Athletic Heart Syndrome: Causes and Symptoms
Athletic heart syndrome is a condition in which the heart gets adapted to the physiological stress and rigorous physical training. This results in the lower resting heart rate which makes it difficult to distinguish between the normal heart rate and a serious medical condition. The lowering of the heart rate can be understood by understanding what happens when a person does rigorous physical training.
Exercise is done to increase the capacity of the heart and other muscles. Hence when a person exercises, the muscles of the heart start working harder which after sometime are capable of pumping more amount of blood than non athletes. It has many positive effects as the oxygen level increases in the blood and it reaches each part of the body more effectively and by using comparatively less energy.
But due to the excess pumping of blood the size of the heart (specially the left ventricle) increases. This makes the heart pump more blood in every heartbeat even when the person is at rest and it adapts to this condition. This changes the electrical conducting system and hence lower resting heart rate is observed. Usually lower resting heart rate is considered to be a sign of fitness and good resting heart rate for athletes is 50 to 60 beats per minute, which is not at all normal in case of a non athlete.
In some athletes it can be observed as low as 35. A resting rate below 30 is not considered to be healthy. A change in the electrical conduction system of the heart can be a symptom of athletic heart syndrome which can be easily diagnosed with the help of an electrocardiogram and X-ray. Apart from this slower and strong pulse, cardiac arrhythmia and heart murmurs are some other symptoms of athlete heart.
Risks of Athletic Heart Syndrome
Low resting heart rate in athletes is common hence many times, a dangerously low rate may go undiagnosed and delay in treatment may result in sudden unexpected death (SUD). SUD usually happens during or after any physical activity. In most cases of SUD, a structural defect in the heart is the reason behind the death. Hence, it is very important to get the symptoms minutely observed as they can resemble with other heart related diseases. Though SUD takes place rarely, it is more common in the people above 35 years of age. Careful examination of resting heart rate chart of athletes and timely treatment is the only solution to avoid such situations.
Sports and other physical activities are good for health and hence, should not be discontinued. They should be done in moderation. There is as such no cure for this syndrome. It may be typically treated by deconditioning the athlete from his physical exercise routine for three months which will bring back his heart to its normal size. You need to take care of yourself and your heart and get it checked at regular intervals to avoid complications.