Researchers learn how athletes’ hearts perform under pressure

Researchers learn how athletes’ hearts perform under pressure

For centuries, scientists have known that athletes perform at a higher physical level than their peers due to their finely tuned bodies. Genetics and training factor into athletes' heightened abilities, but researchers have never been able to get a first-hand look at what's exactly happening inside the body of an elite athlete during periods of peak physical performance.

However, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Center for Cardiovascular Telemedicine at Berlin's Charité-Universitätsmedizin, European scientists were able to monitor the cardiac activity of marathon runner through the use of a mobile continuous electrocardiogram apparatus. The scientists hope that their findings will help inform how best to train not only for elite athletes, but for anybody looking to improve their heart health.

On the run
Despite their incredible physical potential, athletes are not as well understood as you may think. According to the New York Times, the recent spate of fatal cardiac events among young, high school-aged athletes across the country has given many experts pause. This has led more schools with athletic programs to start screening student-athletes for risk of heart disease.

With the findings of the CCT study, presented at the October 31, 2014 meeting of the first European Congress on e-Cardiology and e-Health, the researchers hope that their mobile ECG monitor will allow trainers and athletes themselves to know exactly when they are entering dangerous territory for cardiac activity. With an on-the-skin patch hooked up to a smartphone worn on the arm, five healthy marathon runners with a mean age of 41.7 years old ran two marathons averaging 3 hours and 27 minutes of running time. The data from the ECG patch was sent to the smartphone, which streamed the data to researchers in a remote location.

"The marathon might be just a first indication for the continuous surveillance of vital parameters with mobile phone technology," Friedrich Köhler, Ph.D., senior physician for the CCT's medical school and lead investigator of the study, said in a statement. "There are opportunities in other endurance sports and even in other fields."

Köhler's mobile ECG system is just another tool in athletes' arsenals to make sure they are training to the best of their abilities. In addition to monitoring their hearts, athletes should also incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into their diets. Omax3 contains all variants of omega-3s, so just like the ECG app, they keep athletes' hearts covered from serious injury.

Essential takeaways

  • Researchers in Europe have developed a way to monitor the hearts of marathoners during physical activity.
  • Monitoring the heart and keeping it healthy with omega-3s is the best way for athletes to stay safe.