The Olympics have started in Rio and athletes around the world are geared up to give the best performance of their lives. It is important to remember that the journey that these athletes have to take to get to this point is a hard one. Athletes need to have a lot of discipline, as well as, stamina to get up every morning and train. These fitness regimes can put a lot of strain on their health, in the long term.

“Parents who push their children to specialize in one sport and train extensively in order to win athletic scholarships should be aware there could be long-term health consequences,”

Dr. Pietro Tonino, Loyola University Medical Center of Sports Medicine

Some common issues that athletes have noted include worsening physical function, fatigue, depression, insomnia and pain. They undertake long periods of intensive physical training. Inadequate recovery from training can cause injuries or breakdown of tissues.

Cardiac Diseases in Athletes

Athlete’s tend to have morphological changes in their heart, which are associated with their training methods. It is not uncommon for athletes to die suddenly due to cardiovascular disease. This is caused by a condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Identification of this medical condition can cause disqualification from the competition to reduce risk. Recent advances in echocardiography and other non-invasive imaging techniques have made it easier to identify athletes with this condition. Some essential clues lie in the changes in cavity dimension and left ventricular wall thickness, according to Dr. Maron’s study in 1995.

Which athletes are at risk?

Athletes that take up long-term training are at higher risk for cardiomyopathies, such as:

  • Long Distance Runners
  • Cycling Athletes
  • Rowers
  • Canoers
  • Swimmers

What are the MOst common Cardiovascular Diseases?

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) has been found to have an underlying genetic cause, commonly being passed on from parents to children. The distinction between athlete’s heart and HCM cannot be identified without genetic testing. As a result, the parent will have to take an echocardiogram. However, there is also a possibility of the condition developing sporadically.

If you are an athlete undergoing long-term intensive training, you may want to get yourself checked for the following cardiovascular diseases.

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