Good news for older runners and marathon competitors

A study published within the past year or so made waves in the running community, saying that marathon runners are prone to suffer temporary aftereffects after such races that include weakness in the right side of the heart muscle. This condition was said to last about a week before the heart returned to normal health.

Obviously, this caused some concern among many, especially given the reports of otherwise healthy people who have died running marathons.

The fact that the effects are temporary is relieving, but what about for older competitors? Would they be more vulnerable to more serious heart problems after running a marathon?

Not to worry, according to researchers at Manitoba University. Their research of runners over age 50 concluded that older runners do not suffer any more serious aftereffects from long-distance endurance events than younger competitors and participants, according to this report from Medical News Today.

An excerpt of the report reads as follows:

“The researchers examined healthy volunteers who took part in the 2010 and 2011 Manitoba Full Marathon, and conducted blood tests, ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography), CT and MRI scans. They discovered that immediately after running a 26.2 mile marathon, top marathon runners above the age of 50 showed a transient elevation in blood markers and temporary swelling and weakness of the right side of the heart, which all returned to normal one week after the event.”

“According to earlier research, blood markers have provided evidence of temporary heart injury in young endurance athletes between the ages of 18 to 40 years that were linked to findings with a temporary, yet reversible reduction of the right side of the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood. However, in all athletes the heart function and the blood markers returned to normal within a week of completing the marathon.”

The bottom line, though, is this: You need to make sure you are healthy enough to run a marathon before you actually try it, regardless of your age. But if you are over age 50, healthy and have trained well, you are no more at risk of more serious heart issues than anyone else.

So if you open your mailbox and find AARP literature stuffed inside, fear not. You can still do this, provided you’re trained up and healthy.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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