Mayo Clinic: Extreme Physical Activity May Increase Coronary Calcification, But Fitness Still Prevails
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Nick M writes:
...On a loosely related note, the same cardiologist did advocate caution with endurance sport, specifically with high intensity exercise of longer than two hours or so (largely due to the inflammatory response that gets triggered). He referred me to a book written by a cardiologist (and keen cyclist) called ’The Haywire Heart’ (by John Mandrola and Chris Case) which you might be interested in.
WIND: my primary comment is that I’m going to live. That means doing things I love, which means endurance cycling and all-day hikes, and feeling fantastic because of it.
I am not afraid to die, but I am very much afraid of not living, and no one can tell anyone else what that means—so if “crazy Lloyd” wants to ride double centuries... well other people have far more damaging passions (or no passions or meaningless passions).
Cardiologists are spot-on in expressing some concern about the issue of extreme exercise—they would be remiss not to. But the research is still in its infancy. My best is that extreme exercise carries some risks (why wouldn’t it?) but a risk analysis has to weight that against the benefits, which are physical, psychological, hormonal, and spiritual. No medical study will ever do that properly.
To speak to the research, there is evidence that endurance athletes incur hard plaques from their excess activity. But these hard plaques have a much lower cardiac risk than soft plaques and recent research finds that there is NO INCREASED RISK of cardiovascular events.
CRF = cardiorespiratory fitness
PA = physical activity
...high levels of PA and CRF are extremely protective against CVD events and mortality, making it possible for individuals to perform high doses of running and exercise safely even with high CAC and "hearts of stone."