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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 Apr;49(4):641-645. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001154.

Long-Term Marathon Running Is Associated with Low Coronary Plaque Formation in Women.

Author information

1
1Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; 2Minneapolis Heart Institute and Foundation at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, MN; 3The Integra Group, Brooklyn Park, MN; 4Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA; 5Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; 6Retired Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, MN; and 7Department of Internal Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Marathon running is presumed to improve cardiovascular risk, but health benefits of high volume running are unknown. High-resolution coronary computed tomography angiography and cardiac risk factor assessment were completed in women with long-term marathon running histories to compare to sedentary women with similar risk factors.

METHODS:

Women who had run at least one marathon per year for 10-25 yr underwent coronary computed tomography angiography, 12-lead ECG, blood pressure and heart rate measurement, lipid panel, and a demographic/health risk factor survey. Sedentary matched controls were derived from a contemporaneous clinical study database. CT scans were analyzed for calcified and noncalcified plaque prevalence, volume, stenosis severity, and calcium score.

RESULTS:

Women marathon runners (n = 26), age 42-82 yr, with combined 1217 marathons (average 47) exhibited significantly lower coronary plaque prevalence and less calcific plaque volume. The marathon runners also had less risk factors (smoking, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia); significantly lower resting heart rate, body weight, body mass index, and triglyceride levels; and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels compared with controls (n = 28). The five women runners with coronary plaque had run marathons for more years and were on average 12 yr older (65 vs 53) than the runners without plaque.

CONCLUSION:

Women marathon runners had minimal coronary artery calcium counts, lower coronary artery plaque prevalence, and less calcified plaque volume compared with sedentary women. Developing coronary artery plaque in long-term women marathon runners appears related to older age and more cardiac risk factors, although the runners with coronary artery plaque had accumulated significantly more years running marathons.

PMID:
27824692
DOI:
10.1249/MSS.0000000000001154
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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