Larry Creswell, M.D.
Many athletes have health-related questions, but they aren't sure where to go for answers or -- all perhaps more commonly -- they forget to ask at their annual physicals. Endurance Corner's Larry Creswell, M.D., a cardiac surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, the author of The Athlete's Heart blog and a co-author of the recent USA Triathlon Fatality Incidents Study is here to help.
Have a question about a recent health issue that impacts your training or racing? Have a personal experience that you think will benefit others but you're not sure how to translate it into a larger message for the triathlon community? Contact Larry via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to share.
Can a diet with more fat really be healthier for your heart? Well, it may be true! Let’s talk about a recently published scientific report on the Mediterranean diet and heart health. The findings are remarkable and have implications for athletes and non-athletes, alike.
Last month an article on Slowtwitch entitled, “Heart Tired Revisited”, stimulated an online discussion among some of my triathlete friends about whether or not the heart “gets tired.” I cast a vote for NO and I’m sticking with at least a qualified NO. But the conversation got me to thinking and reading about the broader issue of exercise-related cardiac fatigue. That’s a real concept with implications for every endurance athlete.
Readers here at Endurance Corner will know that I’m a fan of a periodic visit to the doctor for a check-up. In a previous column I discussed the rationale and the value in athletes having a doctor and on my blog I’ve offered suggestions about how to find a good primary care doctor. Today I’m sharing five important questions for your doctor that will help you get the most out of an annual visit.
The Internet has revolutionized the way we get information -- whether it’s the news, the weather report or information about our health. But in some sense, there is just too much information. A quick Google search about an athlete’s medical problem typically yields far too many leads to track down. As I see it, the bigger -- and more relevant -- problem is that there is actually too little quality information. Here are my picks for 10 useful online and social media resources for athletes looking for information about heart disease.
Last August I volunteered to help with a USA Triathlon (USAT) review of race-related fatalities in recent years. Since this issue has been in the news these past couple weeks with athlete deaths at the inaugural Ironman New York triathlon and again at the USAT National Championships in Burlington, Vermont, I thought I’d share my experience with the review, some data you might find interesting, and some thoughts about a path toward better race safety.
No catchy lead in here, just nine interesting facts worth knowing about the athlete's heart.
In a previous article, I wrote about the general issue of serum cholesterol and lipid levels and I’ve always encouraged athletes to “know their numbers.” I'd like to extend that conversation and talk about the most common scenario I hear about: the athlete who has a high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level and who is encouraged to take a statin medication for treatment.
Last month a group of investigators from the Harvard School of Public Health, headed by An Pan, PhD, published a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, entitled “Red Meat Consumption and Mortality”.
The report received a great deal of media attention. But how much of what was reported in the news should concern you?
The topic of short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) injury to the heart with exercise has been in the news again because of a new, provocative study of endurance athletes. This is the most detailed study yet on this topic and deserves our review.
November's theme at Endurance Corner was recovery. We heard about a variety of issues related to both workout recovery and off-season recovery.
As endurance athletes, we’re interested in measures of recovery -- and particularly those measures that are quantifiable and might help guide our training schedules. Two such measures are the resting heart rate and heart rate recovery (HRR).
In part I of this article on compression garments I discussed some of the research on compression and performance/recovery. Here, I’ll cover compression, travel and your heart.
I remember seeing athletic compression garments (CG) for the first time at the expo for the Ironman New Zealand triathlon in 2007. An enthusiastic salesperson wanted to show me a full body compression suit and explain the many benefits for triathletes. I also remember very clearly thinking how silly it all seemed. I’m a skeptic at heart. Now, I’m not so sure. There may well be some benefits. Here’s what I know…
In his column last week, Dr. Bob shared information from some recent studies on the issue of endurance athletes and longevity and offered up some thoughts and conclusions. He’s right. The issue of whether there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to exercise is certainly a hot topic. So, more on that topic!
We learned recently from news reports that two-time Ironman World Champion Normann Stadler underwent heart surgery on July 4 because of a “failing heart valve and aortic aneurysm.” On Twitter, I re-tweeted a link to one of these news reports and I was surprised to see that more than 1,200 of my Twitter followers clicked on that link to read about Stadler. In the past few days, I’ve received a bunch of inquiries about his situation and I thought I’d share some of my initial thoughts with the readers here at Endurance Corner.
A couple heart-warming news reports caught my eye this month and I thought I’d share the stories -- and lessons -- with you here.
Can too much exercise harm the heart? It’s an interesting question -- and probably an important question for many of the readers here at Endurance Corner. This question has received attention recently because of news reports in the popular press , so I thought I’d review the available data, offer some of my own thoughts and conclusions, and let you decide for yourself if you can have “too much of a good thing.”
Sometimes we take for granted that being "fit" is the same as being "healthy." Larry Creswell, M.D., shares a story from a recent triathlon camp he hosted that demonstrates the value of safety planning for camps and similar events.
A month or so ago, I shared on Twitter the results of a survey by the American Heart Association (AHA). In early 2010, nearly 40% of Americans believed they had “ideal heart health,” but in fact only 1% did. That’s a big disconnect. Gordo asked if I’d devote a column to this subject, so here are my thoughts. At the end, I think there’s probably some good news for many of our Endurance Corner readers.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been in the news recently and athletes should take notice. In a report in the British Medical Journal entitled, “Cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: network meta-analysis,” a group of Swiss investigators reviewed the use of NSAIDs in a large group of patients and concluded that there are important cardiovascular risks associated with the use of these medications.
What does that mean for athletes?
It’s that time of year when resolutions are on people’s minds. As we all know, one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to exercise -- often for the stated purpose of losing weight. But exercise is good for so much more. For those who want to keep score, here’s a quick tabulation of the documented health benefits of exercise.
The off-season is the logical time to pause and reflect on our health and make plans as we look ahead. We should be as deliberate about our health planning as we are about next season’s training plan and goals. This is the opportunity to think about (and schedule) our own preventive health maintenance.
Today, I thought we’d talk about serum (in the bloodstream) cholesterol and lipid levels. Please keep in mind that whole books have been written about this topic, so our discussion here will necessarily only cover the essentials. But every athlete should know the essentials!
by Larry Creswell, M.D.
Who hasn’t said, at some point or another, that my heart “skipped a beat”? As it turns out, the heart rarely “skips” a beat in the literal sense, but there are a variety of abnormal heartbeats or heart rhythms (called arrhythmias) that cause us to feel like our heart skipped a beat.
When the heart “skips” a beat, the heart rate becomes irregular. More often than not, this involves an extra heartbeat (such as a premature atrial contraction, or PAC) or an arrhythmia. Today, we’ll talk about one of these arrhythmias -- atrial fibrillation (AF). This is the most common arrhythmia that affects athletes.
by Larry Creswell, M.D.
An interesting study about the structural changes in the heart that accompany triathlon training recently got some play in the popular press. Several friends here mentioned the study and asked about my take, so I thought I’d share the findings from this study and use the opportunity to talk about the heart’s adaptation, in general, to endurance training.
by Larry Creswell, M.D.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) may be the most significant chronic medical problem in the United States. More than 13 million Americans are affected and nearly one person dies every minute in this country from this condition. Importantly for the readers here, CAD is the most common cause of sudden death in athletes over the age of 40.
So what can you do about it?
by Larry Creswell, M.D.
One topic of discussion that comes up frequently among my athlete friends is the issue of laboratory testing -- specifically, blood testing -- for seemingly healthy athletes. This is an area where there are conflicting opinions among sports medicine and other physicians who care for athletes, but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts. I’ll try to keep things practical.
by Larry Creswell
I’ve noticed that my triathlete friends often give short shrift to some of the warning signs of potentially worrisome problems -- problems that stem from the heart or vascular system. This is particularly true for my male athlete friends! Young “healthy” men just don’t like to go to the doctor. I think that athletes like to believe they’re invincible, ignoring serious warning signs until they just simply can’t be ignored any longer. But just like plantar fasciitis, for example, it’s always best to recognize and deal with any serious heart-related problem earlier rather than later.
by Larry Creswell, M.D.
It’s springtime and for many triathletes (at least in the northern hemisphere) this season is already underway. We’ve laid out race schedule, we’ve sketched out a training plan for the year, the bike’s been tuned up, we’ve lined up some new gear, and we’re ready to go.
I’d like you to add one more item to your early season check-list: a check-up. For you.
by Larry Creswell, M.D.
We’re triathletes. So we’re healthy, right?
Well, that’s probably true -- particularly if we compare ourselves to our friends or family members who are sitting on the couch watching the TV while we’re out swimming, biking or running. And in fact, the health benefits of regular exercise are well documented: decreased risk of many forms of heart disease, better weight control, better mood, improved sleep quality, decreased risk of colon or breast cancer, decreased risk of osteoporosis. The list is long.