Regular exercise provides a range of health benefits including improved cardiovascular health. However, there is mounting evidence to suggest that highly trained athletes are at greater risk of some arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation.
- Exercise is one of the most powerful positive therapies for improving cardiovascular and overall health.
- Regular exercise training results in functional, electrical and structural changes in the heart (the ‘athlete’s heart’), which is almost always benign.
- The extent of heart changes is proportional to an athlete’s fitness.
- Some arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, are slightly more common in endurance athletes. The causes and treatments specific to athletes are yet to be determined.
- People should be encouraged to take up regular exercise regimens. The manner in which they start their exercise regimens (preferably gradually and consistently) is probably more important than any pre-participation screening. Anyone developing symptoms during exercise should be assessed promptly and thoroughly.