Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Less-Fit Runners Could Develop Temporary Damage to the Heart During a Marathon, Study Finds

Oct. 25, 2010 -- Runners who are less fit may experience temporary but reversible damage to the heart during a marathon, according to a new study.

Marathon running can cause temporary increases in swelling and inflammation of the heart muscle, as well as decreases in blood flow, and the less physically fit the runner, the more widespread this damage. That’s according to new research presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010 in Montreal.

"There is no permanent damage to the heart, but there is some temporary, reversible damage that occurs during the run," says study author Eric Larose, a cardiologist at the Quebec Foundation for Health Research in Quebec City, Canada. Heart function returns to baseline in three months, he says.

Twenty marathon runners underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams of their hearts, blood tests, and exercise testing in the six to eight weeks before the race and again two days after the marathon.

The runners in the new study were considered low-risk. "If we are finding this in low-risk runners, people who haven't been given a clean bill of health should reconsider running a marathon," he says. "To get healthy you don't need to run a marathon, but to run a marathon you do need to be healthy.

"Exercise is great to prevent cardiovascular disease in the long run, but while you are exercising -- particularly vigorously -- your risk of an event can go up," he says.

More to Heart-Healthy Exercise Than Marathon Running

"This is very exciting research that confirms clinical suspicion that some people don't do well with marathons," saysBeth Abramson, MD, a spokeswoman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and director of the Cardiac Prevention Center at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

"Bursts of extreme activity may be transiently harmful on the heart," she says. "If you are planning to run a marathon, talk to your doctor and make sure you train with someone who knows what they are doing.

"You don’t have to run a marathon to be physically fit and lead a heart-healthy life," she says. Aiming for 30- 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week can improve cardiovascular health, she says.

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

-
Beats
PER
Seconds

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

-
Beats
PER
Seconds