What are the risks of playing an intense sport at a later age and what, if anything, can be done to reduce that risk?
Those are questions Dr. Saul Isserow of Vancouver General Hospital’s Centre for Cardiovascular Health hopes to answer.
“We are trying to find out what the prevalence is of those risk factors that contribute to heart disease in the exercising population in B.C.,” said Isserow, who studies the association between cardiac health and sports in people over 35 years of age.
Exercise is good for people of all ages, no doubt, but Isserow said you have to be sensible about it, especially when it comes to a high-intensity sport like hockey.
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“Vigorous, unaccustomed exercise can occasionally be dangerous, especially if an individual is at risk of heart attack at other times,” he said.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and a family history of heart disease.
But even if you have none of those things, there is another risk factor everyone will inherit if they live long enough.
“Unfortunately, age is a risk factor for cardiac disease irrespective of the other risk factors,” Isserow said.
His research hopes to find how best to ensure exercise is both safe and fun.
Shying away from breaking a sweat is not the answer. Living life to the fullest is the best prescription for good health, but it is important to go about it the right way.
“Make sure that despite the fact that you exercise you check with your doctor and make sure the risk factors that we know are prevalent in heart disease are well taken care of,” he said.
– With files from Linda Aylesworth
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