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Medicine

Marathons and the heart

The physical preparation for running a marathon for the first time can lower blood pressure and stiffen the aortic valve, which is responsible for releasing blood flow to the body’s main artery. The benefits include reducing cardiovascular age by up to 4 years, according to a study coordinated by Charlotte Manisty, from University College London. It is common for artery walls to become thicker and stiffer with age, which means the heart has to work harder to pump blood and increases the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. The study looked at 138 beginner runners who participated in the London marathon in 2016 and 2017. They were on average 37 years old and healthy, with no history of heart disease. They ran 10 to 15 kilometers a week in preparation for the event. The researchers examined the participants before the training phase began and after the marathon. The training helped decrease blood pressure and reduce the stiffness of the aortic valve (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, January 2). The eldest and those who completed the run more slowly showed the most significant changes.

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