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HHS HealthBeat (May 6, 2014)

Hearts for sports

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Endurance exercise may have an effect on your heart that varies according to the sport.

At Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, Meagan Wasfy studied the hearts of rowers and distance runners. She focused on the structure and function of the heart’s hard-pumping left ventricle.  

Wasfy says rowers, whose blood pressure spikes with each stroke, had a thicker heart muscle, called left ventricular hypertrophy, than the runners, whose blood pressure is steadier during exercise.

“The rowers had diastolic function - that is heart relaxation between beats - that was not only better than normal but also better than the runners, who did not have left ventricular hypertrophy.”

The study, presented at the American College of Cardiology conference, was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: May 6, 2014