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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 Jan;49(1):21-28.

Vascular Function and Structure in Veteran Athletes after Myocardial Infarction.

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1Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, Department of Physiology, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, THE NETHERLANDS; 2Research Institute for Sports and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM; and 3Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, Department of Neurology, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, THE NETHERLANDS.



Although athletes demonstrate lower cardiovascular risk and superior vascular function compared with sedentary peers, they are not exempted from cardiac events (i.e., myocardial infarction [MI]). The presence of an MI is associated with increased cardiovascular risk and impaired vascular function. We tested the hypothesis that lifelong exercise training in post-MI athletes, similar as in healthy controls, is associated with a superior peripheral vascular function and structure compared with a sedentary lifestyle in post-MI individuals.


We included 18 veteran athletes (ATH) (>20 yr) and 18 sedentary controls (SED). To understand the effect of lifelong exercise training after MI, we included 20 veteran post-MI athletes (ATH + MI) and 19 sedentary post-MI controls (SED + MI). Participants underwent comprehensive assessment using vascular ultrasound (vascular stiffness, intima-media thickness, and endothelium (in)dependent mediated dilatation). Lifetime risk score was calculated for a 30-yr risk prediction of cardiovascular disease mortality of the participants.


ATH demonstrated a lower vascular stiffness and smaller femoral intima-media thickness compared with SED. Vascular function and structure did not differ between ATH + MI and SED + MI. ATH (4.0% ± 5.1%) and ATH + MI (6.1% ± 3.7%) had a significantly better lifetime risk score compared with their sedentary peers (SED: 6.9% ± 3.7% and SED + MI: 9.3% ± 4.8%). ATH + MI had no secondary events versus two recurrent MI and six elective percutaneous coronary interventions within SED + MI (P < 0.05).


Although veteran post-MI athletes did not have a superior peripheral vascular function and structure compared with their sedentary post-MI peers, benefits of lifelong exercise training in veteran post-MI athletes relate to a better cardiovascular risk profile and lower occurrence of secondary events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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