Most people assume athletes are not at risk of developing heart disease due to their active lifestyles. Indeed, engaging in physical activity and eating well are two critical parts of maintaining cardiovascular health. However, even highly active people face risks tied to heart disease. There are unique health factors associated with athletes' heart health and overall well-being.
The heart specialists at Modern Heart and Vascular can help you navigate those challenges. Whether you're a professional or recreational athlete, our cardiologists have years of experience in cardiovascular problems among active individuals. We use superior technology to diagnose and treat a range of heart conditions common in athletes. Our emphasis on prevention and early detection will allow you to manage your condition without ending your athletic career.
Heart Health Risks in Athletes
Athletes typically follow a fit lifestyle and practice healthy habits to optimize their performance on the field or around the track. However, even professional athletes are at risk for developing heart disease. Some major and contributing risk factors are out of your control, while other aspects might be modifiable.
Cardiovascular risk factors that affect athletes can include:
- Genetics: A family history or genetic predisposition to heart disease, including coronary artery disease or hypertension, can increase your likelihood of developing a cardiac condition.
- Underlying conditions: Non-cardiac diseases like diabetes can lead to heart-related complications that damage your heart or blood vessels.
- Age: Your overall risk of heart disease rises as you get older.
- Gender: Men face a higher chance of heart attack at an earlier age than women.
- Stress: Extreme or poorly managed stress can cause circulatory issues such as high blood pressure, putting excess strain on your heart.
Common Heart Conditions Among Athletes
Athletic individuals face a unique set of heart health risks. While problems may be rarer among athletes than sedentary people, cardiac conditions can cause serious or even life-threatening issues. High-intensity activity might even exacerbate certain heart diseases.
Common heart conditions that affect athletes include:
- Enlarged heart: Also known as athlete's heart, an enlarged heart develops naturally in those who undergo intense physical training. However, an enlarged heart might also indicate a more harmful cause, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). A cardiologist can distinguish whether your enlarged heart puts you at risk.
- Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA): SCA is a rare but possibly deadly event in which a rapid heart rate deprives the heart and vital organs of blood, resulting in severe damage or death. Sudden cardiac death is twice as common in young athletes as in non-athletes.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the most common heart-related conditions in athletes. Hypertension occurs when your blood pressure rises and forces your heart and blood vessels to work harder.
- Congenital heart defects: People born with a heart condition may not even realize they have one. Congenital heart diseases can be silent or lead to dangerous complications later in life, especially during physical activity when the heart is under stress.
Set an Appointment at Our Heart Health Clinic for Athletes
Modern Heart and Vascular is a private cardiac center with experience in athletic cardiovascular health. To learn more about our services and how we can help athletes manage their heart health, request a consultation today.
This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.