The key to a healthy heart is eating well, not smoking, and of course, exercising regularly. When we exercise, our heart becomes stronger, allowing for a healthy supply of blood to reach the rest of the body and enabling its healthy functioning. Though, even if you exercise regularly, your doctor may have diagnosed you with a heart condition – but have you been misdiagnosed?
Regular exercise contributes to misdiagnosed heart condition
Studies have shown that if you exercise more than three hours a week, you could be misdiagnosed with an enlarged heart. This could prompt your cardiologist to run a series of tests to see what’s going on – not to mention plenty of stress and anxiety on your part.
The study involved 1,096 individuals with healthy hearts who exercised for three to five hours weekly. They were twice as likely to have enlarged hearts compared to non-exercisers. Furthermore, those who exercised more than five hours a week were nine times more likely to have an enlarged heart. In 42 percent of cases, the right ventricle was large enough to be diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (a type of progressive heart disease).
Erin D. Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, explained, “Prior work in this area has largely focused on athletes participating in high levels of intensive exercise training… But this study was conducted in the general population and also found an association of enlargement among those with higher levels of physical activity who are not necessarily trained athletes.”
But don’t get too worried just yet – the heart is a muscle after all, and just like the other muscles grow bigger as you train, your heart can do the same. Working out a lot can cause the heart walls to become thicker, enabling the heart to generate a better force to pump blood. These changes are not generally harmful, but unfortunately they do overlap with some serious heart conditions.
If you exercise regularly and your doctor has discussed heart issues with you, be sure to mention to them your level of physical activity. Or you may want to switch to a doctor dealing with athletes who is more familiar with the link between fitness and an enlarged heart.
In any event, you shouldn’t let the study discourage you from working out. A sedentary lifestyle is far more harmful for your heart. So unless your doctor says otherwise, you should keep up with regular physical activity in order to maintain a healthy heart.