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Why is a TOO big heart bad ?

Richard Kondo kondo at buphy.bu.edu
Thu Oct 13 11:45:36 EST 1994


Lombard FranCois (lombardf at uni2a.unige.ch) wrote:
: A student of mine (I teach Biology to 15-18 year olds) asked why it isn't
: so good to develop a too big heart (very intense training of teenagers is
: supposed to be bad for that reason , amongst others)
: Any help, or suggestion as to where I should post this are welcome.

: FranCois Lombard
: lombardf at uni2a.unige.ch

: -- 
: Lombard FranCois
: Centre Informatique pedagogique
: Cp 3144 / CH - 1211 Geneva 3 /Switzerland
: Fax +4122 781 03 50  / Tel + 41 22 318 05 30

Hopefully, this post isn't duplicated - had a problem with the first
attempt.

	Developing a larger heart is known as cardiac hypertrophy.  Both
athletes and persons with hypertension develop hypertrophy.  In the
first case, the hypertrophy is beneficial, because the heart is able to
pump more blood per heart beat.  In the later case, it is deleterious, a
response to the increased blood pressure in the arteries.  The type of
hypertrophy in each case is different.  For athletes, the heart diameter
and volume increases, while for hypertensive individuals, the mass of
the heart increases (the walls of the heart chambers increase in
thickness). The exercise physiologist in our lab says that aerobic
exercise is good for your heart (no problem with too large an heart);
however, weight training leads to hypertrophy more similar to that in
hypertensive persons  (I don't know the data regarding death rates in
body builders - it may still not be bad).  Secondly, intensive training
as you noted has other effects, and perhaps those who train excessively
has other traits which possibly are harmful - I don't know.

	Exercise physiology is not my field, so I am not sure what
sources you could consult.  If you had access to Medline or some other
medical database, you could find many references.  But the important
point i is tt all hypertrophies are not made equal.

Richard Kondo
kondo at buphy.bu.edu
Cardiac Muscle Research Lab
Boston University, Boston



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