New research assessing the long-term health effects of endurance exercise training

Researchers, sports cardiologists A. Prof Andre La Gerche, Dr Maria Brosnan and research Nurse Kristel Janssens will be at the 2017 Underage Selection Trials in Penrith this Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 April to undertake FISA required heart testing and they will be available to discuss study participation with any interested athletes and their parents.

Melbourne-based cardiac researchers are recruiting a large group of young (aged 16-23) endurance athletes to participate in a study which aims to explore how endurance exercise affects the heart and long term heart health.

Participants in the study are currently being recruited in Melbourne and Adelaide.

Baseline testing includes a VO2 max test and body composition analysis with a DEXA scanner, as well as a heart ultrasound and a heart MRI, the results of which will be immediately available to participants.

What is the aim of this research?
“A minority of athletes who have participated in long term endurance exercise present either during their careers, or in retirement, with heart rhythm disturbances. In many cases this appears to be related to the amount of endurance exercise they have undertaken in their lifetime.  Why this happens to some, and not all, endurance athletes is something we do not understand. Similarly, we know that some endurance athletes develop more profound heart enlargement than others in response to the same training load, but as yet, we do not have a good explanation for these individual variations”.

There has been no research to date which prospectively assesses the effects of endurance exercise on the heart’s development and this study will be the first of its’ kind in the world.

Can you tell us more about what participation involves?
Participants will undergo a complete physical and cardiac assessment at baseline, including a VO2 max test and a DEXA scan for body composition. Cardiac (heart) testing will involve a heart ultrasound, an MRI of the heart as well as a simple heart tracing (ECG) and a 24-hour heart monitor. Blood will also be collected for future genetic analysis as it seems likely that genetic factors which predict heart development will be uncovered.

These tests will be repeated 2 years after enrolment, and subjects will be followed up beyond this to look at longer term outcomes for heart health.

Who can participate?
Healthy endurance athletes aged between 16 and 23. Currently, the study is running out of Melbourne and Adelaide, but if you live interstate and are willing to travel, then you can also be enrolled.

Sports cardiologists A. Prof Andre La Gerche, Dr Maria Brosnan and research Nurse Kristel Janssens will be at the Underage Selection Trials in Penrith this Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 April to undertake FISA required cardiac screening and they will be available to discuss study participation with any interested athletes and their parents.

For any queries, please email Kristel Janssens.