Cardiologist: Arrhythmias - Is Sport Therapeutically Sensible or Dangerous?

Exercise can help with irregular heartbeat - but caution is advised

The German Cardiac Society (DGK) reports that people who suffer from cardiac arrhythmias do not necessarily have to do without sport. After extensive cardiological examination, experts advise cardiac patients to do sports to the right extent and under precise guidance in order to achieve health-promoting effects.

Prof. Peter Seizer, rhythmologist and cardiologist at the University Hospital Tübingen, reports at the DGK Heart Days, which take place in Berlin from October 12th to 14th, what patients with cardiac arrhythmias have to watch out for if they want to do sports. While caution is required, complete waiver is not necessary.

Not every patient is the same

According to Prof. Seizer, it depends on the exact form of the cardiac arrhythmia to what extent sport or sports activities are beneficial for the patient's health. Examinations with ECG, 24-hour ECG and, if necessary, additional echocardiography can provide assessments about this. “Recreational athletes should especially have a cardiological examination if they suspect that they have an irregular heartbeat. This means that they either already have symptoms or that there are people with this disease in their family, ”explains Prof. Seizer. The majority of cardiac arrhythmia in recreational athletes is uncomfortable, but relatively harmless.

Avoid dangerous sports

A cardiac arrhythmia is usually harmless if there are no additional diseases or if the disorder only occurs at the atrial level, explains Prof Seizer. Such disorders can occur in athletes of any sport and regardless of the age of the athlete. However, special caution should be exercised in sports where an impaired consciousness caused by an irregular heart rhythm can have fatal consequences, for example when climbing, diving, skiing, cycling, riding or motorcycling.

Take symptoms seriously

The expert reports that there are alarm signals in the patients even before cardiac arrhythmia occurs. Too often these are neglected or ignored. “Especially men don't admit the symptoms or believe that they have just overexerted themselves. But you should definitely be examined, ”warns Prof. It is particularly dangerous if ambitious amateur athletes with a serious, undetected heart disease practice a sport with a competitive character, such as playing football. Because then they often try to get the most out of themselves and go beyond their limits.

Sport as therapy

Prof. Dr. Frank Edelmann continues to report at the DGK Heart Days: "Sport and physical activity are also essential components in the prevention and treatment of chronic heart failure". Physical activity can be an essential component to reduce the occurrence of heart failure by up to 50 percent. "Even if there is a heart weakness, it can be milder with previously active people," says Prof. Edelmann. In patients suffering from heart failure, two to three training sessions per week would have an important effect on the prognosis. In addition, poor performance and quality of life can be significantly improved after a short time. Even important comorbidities such as diabetes can be better treated or adjusted with the help of physical training, explains the doctor. (fp)

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