Can too much exercise damage your arteries?

Too much exercise damages arteries

A study published this month by the University of Illinois at Chicago and Kaiser Permanente has been causing a bit of controversy. It showed that white men who exercised at least 450 minutes a week where 86 percent more likely than those that exercised much less to have a buildup of plaque in their arteries. The unique thing about this study was that the subjects were followed over the course of 25 years, beginning when they were between 18 and 30 years old. It measured the presence of CAC, which stands for coronary artery calcification and is a significant warning for risk for developing heart disease. Although the authors did note that this form of CAC could be a more stable type that would be less likely to rupture and ultimately cause a heart attack.

As you can imagine, this has been quite a bombshell, especially for those that like to perform in high levels of exercise, like marathon runners and triathletes. It was always assumed that the more exercise one did, the healthier they are but this study may show otherwise. The authors went on to note that “high levels of exercise over time may cause stress on the arteries leading to higher CAC.” They also went on to say that they do not suggest anyone to stop exercising. Although further studies are needed to show the ultimate impact of exercise on our health, it is probably better for us to remain active, in whatever form you enjoy – even triathalons – as long as you listen to your body and get check-ups regularly.

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