Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Sports medicine highlights from other journals
  1. Christina Le1,
  2. Ronan Kearney2,
  3. Zain Sharif3
  1. 1 Physiotherapy Department, Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2 Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 Department of Cardiology, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ronan Kearney, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland; ronankearney{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

The relationship between lifelong exercise volume and coronary atherosclerosis in athletes

Circulation 2017; 136(2):138–48

It is well recognised that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events but what actually happens within the coronary arteries of those who regularly exercise?

This study used CT to assess coronary artery calcification (CAC) and plaque characteristics in 284 middle-aged asymptomatic men engaging in sport. The participants had no history of cardiovascular disease and gave lifelong exercise history grouped as <1000, 1000–2000 or >2000 MET-min/week.

Surprisingly, the most active group had approximately 50% higher prevalence of CAC and burden of atherosclerotic plaques. Reassuringly, these plaques were 3.5 times more likely to be stable and less likely to rupture compared with unstable non-calcified plaques with fibrous caps and necrotic cores that are most vulnerable to rupture and cause an ischaemic event. Those engaging <2000 MET-min/week had no statistically significant increase in CAC.

The clinical relevance of CAC in the most active athletes remains unclear. We need to investigate coronary physiology in sport further. So while we harden up in more ways than one while preparing for that marathon, it seems these changes …

View Full Text


  • Contributors Contributed by the BJSM team Education from other journals.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer Original image provided by paper author Monika Bayer

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Collaborators Education from other journals team.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. A clarification about the original source of figure 1 has been added.