In recent weeks several well-known athletes have had health problems in full action, specifically related to cardiac pathologies such as heart attacks and arrhythmias.
Sergio Agüero and Caroline Grahham Hansen of FC Barcelona, suffered an arrhythmia in a match; Christian Eriksen of Inter Milan suffered a heart attack in the European Championship; Andrés Román from Boca Juniors had a heart problem and Edwin Cardona from the same team was diagnosed with myocarditis.
According to the Report 24 media, since June 2021 there have been 75 cases of athletes with heart problems. According to experts, the risk of suffering from this type of condition depends on the physical effort that is made in sports.
Endurance exercise causes heart problems
The Spanish Heart Foundation recognizes that continuous and moderate exercise is one of the key healthy habits to prevent cardiovascular disease, but if it is intense, it can affect the proper functioning of the heart.
“A study by the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona determined that continuous resistance exercise carried out for years could cause alterations in cardiac structure and function, creating a substrate for arrhythmias,” the foundation indicates on its website.
The authors of the research concluded that there is a direct relationship between endurance effort and the odds of suffering a cardiac arrhythmia, which correlates with the odds of endurance athletes suffering from atrial fibrillation.
This foundation recalls that “experts agree that all those who perform or are going to start in a competitive sport, which involves very intense physical effort, must be controlled by specialists: have a personal and family medical history, be subjected to examination exhaustive physical and stress tests and electrocardiogram. All of this is made with the aim of ruling out any cardiovascular problem that could be fatal”.
Covid-19 can increase risk of arrhythmia
Dr. Natalie Maynard, from internal medicine at CEACO, explained that there is literature that shows that Covid-19 disease can increase the risk of certain arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation (AF), whose prevalence is 4% in people older than 60 years.
“In a meta-analysis by Li, Z et al published in October 2021, where more than 21,000 patients are evaluated, the prevalence of AF is 11% and appears in patients with more severe disease. However, the prevalence of arrhythmias varies depending on the population studied and in our country there is no study of this and our population is different from the Asian population referred to in the article”, detailed the expert.
Cases in which Covid-19 is severe, occurs with factors that predispose an arrhythmia and not necessarily due to the effect of the virus. “For example, hypoxia, septic or cardiogenic shock, and fluid and electrolyte disturbances, to name a few, can themselves lead to cardiac arrhythmias”, Dr. Maynard stressed.
She explained that those who suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus have a higher risk of having an arrhythmia. “Many of the patients who were hospitalized for Covid-19 had these diseases, many times not previously diagnosed and therefore, without control in primary care,” said the intern doctor.
“There are also many types of cardiac arrhythmias, emphasis was placed on AF due to its prevalence in the population, but most patients are admitted with sinus tachycardia. In critical patients, with endotracheal intubation requirements and associated bacterial, fungal or viral infections, there is a greater probability of suffering from more severe arrhythmias. In addition, patients with underlying heart disease or a recent heart attack are at greater risk of developing arrhythmias”, she added.