During the 2020 Euro soccer championships, the unexpected happened. The collapse of a Danish player, Christian Eriksen, took the whole stadium by shock and surprise. The midfielder turned out to have suffered a cardiac arrest, with the doctors present having to give him urgent care. On some level or other, these things can be unbelievable – how can someone who’s in such great shape suffer from heart problems?
It’s time to raise awareness of heart health in professional sports and do our part in ensuring everyone is ready to talk about it. In this post, we’ll discuss 7 common questions about athletes’ heart health.
Question 1. Are heart issues common in athletes?
The good news is that these sorts of events are quite rare in athletes1. However, sudden issues that pop up might have a massive effect on the athlete, so understanding what to look out for and how to take care of heart health is essential.
Question 2. Why might athletes have heart issues?
It might seem odd that the healthy athletes, who look after their body and performance so well can suffer from heart issues. Some athletes might be genetically predisposed to these heart conditions, so it’s a good idea to monitor your heart health regularly. Additionally, those who train often, and so at a high intensity can develop an athlete’s heart. This is a range of changes that happens to the heart, and while it’s not usually a cause to worry, it’s still good to pay attention to it2.
Question 3. Why is heart health a concern?
The heart is essential for our ability to exercise, therefore, it affects our performance. Looking after heart health is key for good performance, and it’s especially important since over 80% of athletes don’t typically experience signs of issues3.
Raising awareness of this can help people advocate for themselves and seek support in case they feel something’s off.
Question 4. How can athletes get screened?
It’s important to look after your heart health and keep monitoring it in case something crops up unexpectedly. Ensure you get a regular screening as per the guidelines relevant to you – your coach or doctor might be able to advise you on it. Typically, though, a medical history and a physical exam may be sufficient. Some athletes, especially in Europe, may also get an ECG exam to check how the heart is working4.
Question 5. How can athletes look after heart health?
Athletes already do plenty of exercise, which is great for heart health. However, there are other things they can do:
Luckily, there are plenty of heart-healthy nutrients athletes can be getting more of. Eating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids supports cardiovascular health5.
If you’ve heard that red wine helps heart health, you may be partially right. Maxler Trans-resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes and wine can benefit heart health. Taurine 1000 mg is another antioxidant known to support heart health and provide plenty of other benefits for athletes6.
Question 6. What symptoms should athletes watch out for?
It’s good to know what to look for before something happens. Some common symptoms that arise are an increase or uneven heart rate, chest pains, a drop in performance, and even shortness of breath7. Reach out to your doctor as soon as you can should you experience any of these.
Question 7. Do female athletes have the same symptoms?
Female athletes aren’t more likely to develop issues than men, and in some cases, they may be less likely to develop certain conditions8. However, the risk is still there and more work has yet to be done to understand sex differences in sport and heart health. However, it’s important to note that symptoms might present differently in women, so it’s worth working closely with a doctor to monitor heart health9.
As an athlete, it’s important to look after your body’s motor, the heart. It not only keeps you going but is essential for your athletic success. Understanding common issues that affect athletes and how to care for your heart health is key to being able to look after it well. Stay positive and stay heart-healthy!