High Intensity Exercise Can Harm Your Heart: Here’s How

Excessive high-intensity exercise has been shown to increase the chance of having a heart attack.

It’s been a week since Raju Srivastava, the laughter king, died of a heart attack. He apparently fainted while working out in a gym on the treadmill.

A year ago, the same thing happened to Kannada sensation Puneeth Rajkumar. He collapsed after suffering a major heart arrest while working out in a Bengaluru gym.

Puneeth Rajkumar’s elder brother, Kannada actor Shiva Rajkumar, fell in the gym while working out in 2015 and suffered a small heart attack. He was fortunate to survive.

Not just them, but a great number of performers and athletes have been known to suffer from cardiac arrest as a result of excessive exertion. As we all know, too much of anything is bad.

Workouts are no exception. Excessive high-intensity exercise has been shown to increase the chance of having a heart attack and developing heart arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm later in life.

Those who have inherited heart abnormalities are particularly prone to cardiac arrests caused by strenuous activity.

Finding the link between excessive exercise and heart health

While moderate exercise improves heart health, long-term endurance exercise can place additional strain on the cardiovascular system.

Excessive activity frequently results in the production of biomarkers in the blood that may be linked to heart injury.

While these biomarkers can disappear on their own, when vigorous exercise is repeated, this transient damage might culminate in heart remodelling or physical changes such as thickening of the heart walls and harm to the heart.

Also, it has been observed that high intensity exercise can significantly increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrests and even fatality due to cardiac arrest among those with an underlying cardiac condition.

Additionally, it can increase the risk of heart rhythm disorders, especially for those who suffer from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a condition in which heart muscles become abnormally thick and coronary heart disease – damage or disease in the heart’s major blood vessels.
Strenuous exercise for a prolonged period of time is known to enhance the chance of developing atrial fibrillation – an irregular, often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow.

How much exercise is too much for the heart

150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week is a healthy recommendation for the heart. Anything beyond that like running about 60 to 80 miles every week could be damaging for the heart.
Running long distances on pavement or any kind of vigorous exercise that one hasn’t trained for could be injurious to your heart. Also, a high -intensity exercise could be harmful for heart health if one does it without warming up.

Things to do to make sure exercise doesn’t do damage to the heart

Regular, moderate intensity exercise is great for the heart. However, one has to keep certain things in mind before starting an exercise course for preventing heart damage.
A doctor should be consulted: It is essential to consult a doctor before starting a strenuous exercise routine as one must know if they are fit enough to begin.
This is important especially for those who are at a considerable risk of developing a cardiac disorder, those who have had cardiac issues earlier or those with an inactive lifestyle earlier.
It is important to start slow: One must start slowly and gradually pull up to different levels of physical activity and not begin intensely all at once.
Before walking up hills or jogging and running, one must walk on a level surface for at least 6 to 8 weeks and get used to it.
During that course of time, one must observe and make sure they are not facing symptoms like chest pain, pressure, lightheadedness or shortness of breath before advancing to high intensity activities.
Warming up is a must: Before plunging into high intensity exercise, one must spend considerable time to adequately stretch and amp up the heart rate a little bit before starting the exercise routine.
Jumping directly into high intensity activity can put one at a greater risk of having a heart attack.
One must get seasoned to the environment: It is important to get customized to the environment in which one exercises.
One must be aware of the limitations and be prepared from prior if one plans to exercise at higher altitude. In order to prevent over straining of the body, one must cut exercise accordingly.
Cooling off is a must: Just like warming up before the exercise, it is important to cool off once the exercise is done.
The time to cool off allows the heart to return to its resting rhythm. In case one experiences persistent chest pain, pressure, lightheadedness or shortness of breath following a course of exercise, one must talk to the doctor immediately.
While moderate exercise keeps up one’s heart health, it is important for all to be aware of the ill effects of overstraining the body with prolonged high intensity exercise and keep in mind the dos and don’ts of exercise to prevent any kind of heart damage.
The authored article is written by Dr. Brajmohan Singh, Consultant – Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, HCG Hospitals, Ahmedabad and shared with Prittle Prattle News exclusively.
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