Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Athlete's Heart


Aerobically trained people have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension and coronary artery disease, but a trained heart is not immune to heart problems. The tragic deaths of Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman, collegiate basketball player Hank Gathers and other young athletes in their prime are a sobering reminder that no one is invincible.

Still, sudden death is very rare. In a 20-year study done at the Air Force Academy on recruit deaths during exercise, the incidence was 1.7 deaths for 500,000 hours of exercise. The researchers concluded that "the risk of exercise-related sudden death is no greater than deaths occurring by chance alone." Most cases of sudden death in athletes under the age of 35 are due to pre-existing structural congenital heart disease.

In people over the age of 35, exercise-related sudden death is often caused by underlying coronary artery disease. Adaptations the heart makes during normal training don't cause any of these problems. Most of us have healthy hearts, and appropriate training can reduce one's risk of some forms of heart disease.

Even with a healthy heart, exercising with a high fever maybe risky. You might place undue strain on the heart while fighting an infection, or you might have a coexisting inflammation of the heart. Several other factors might indicate that you are at risk for an exercise-related cardiac problem. If any of the risk factors listed below apply to you, contact your doctor and get an evaluation before beginning a program.

Some cardiac risk factors:

I. A history of fainting for no apparent reason, especially if the fainting occurred during or immediately after exercise.

2. Symptoms of an irregular heartbeat, palpitations, skipped beats or fluttering heartbeat either when resting or exercising.

3. A close blood relative who died suddenly before the age of 55, or a family history of early coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, Marfan's syndrome or enlarged heart.

4. A family or personal history of seizures.

5. You are a male over age 40 or a female over 50, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you have a medical evaluation before you begin an exercise program.

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About the authors: Carol L. Otis, M.D., is Chief Medical Advisor to the Sanex WTA and a UCLA student health physician. Roger Goldingay is a former professional soccer player. They are married and the co-authors of The Athletic Woman's Survival Guide.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

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