Test Your Ticker

    Photo: John Lang

Heart Health Q & A

An elite athlete seems to drop dead of heart failure every year. Why?
First, cardiac arrest in fit young athletes is a rare phenomenon that guarantees media attention. Still, Dr. Steven Van Camp, a sports cardiologist at UC Irvine Medical Center, says, "If it prompts athletes to call their doctor and get a long-overdue health check, that's not necessarily bad." Likely culprits? Congenital problems or coronary-artery disease, which a thorough exam can reveal. "The person who gets into trouble is the person who has a condition and doesn't know it or has a condition and doesn't deal with it,"says Van Camp.

Here are two easy ways to get a quick measure of heart health.

(1) Go to the National Institutes of Health's online risk-assessment calculator (hp2010.nhlbihin.net/
atpiii/calculator.asp
) to learn your odds of having a heart attack within the next ten years.

(2) How quickly your heart recovers from exercise is also a good indicator. Give yourself this simple test, based on a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

 

Step 1: Run for ten minutes at a moderate to vigorous pace (fast enough that it's difficult to carry on a conversation). Immediately after stopping, check your heart rate (count beats per minute with a watch or use a heart-rate monitor).

Step 2: After the initial reading, wait one minute and calculate your heart rate again.

Step 3: Do the math. Your heart rate should have dropped by at least 25 beats per minute. If it didn't, you should see a cardiologist and make some lifestyle changes. In the NEJM study, participants whose heart rate dropped fewer than 25 beats per minute were more likely to suffer heart attacks.

 

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Comments