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  • 1. Farahmand, B Y
    et al.
    Ahlbom, A
    Ekblom, Örjan
    Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Björn Ekblom's research group.
    Ekblom, Björn
    Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Björn Ekblom's research group.
    Hållmarker, U
    Aronson, D
    Brobert, G Persson
    Mortality amongst participants in Vasaloppet: a classical long-distance ski race in Sweden.2003In: Journal of Internal Medicine, ISSN 0954-6820, E-ISSN 1365-2796, Vol. 253, no 3, p. 276-83Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess mortality amongst participants in long-distance ski races during the Vasaloppet week. We considered the 90 km races for men and 90 or 30 km for women. The vast majority of the participants in these races are not competing on the elite level. It is assumed, however, that they have to undergo regular physical training during a long period of time in order to successfully finish the race. DESIGN: The cohort study consisted of 49 219 men and 24 403 women, who participated in any of the races during 1989-1998. All subjects were followed up in the National-Cause-of-Death-Register until 31 December 1999. We computed the standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) adjusting for age and calendar year. RESULTS: Overall, 410 deaths occurred, compared with 850.6 expected, yielding an SMR of 0.48 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.44-0.53]. Low SMRs were found in all age groups in both men and women and in all groups after categorization by finishing time and number of races. The lowest SMRs were found amongst older participants and in those who participated in several races. A decreased mortality was observed in all major diagnostic groups, namely cancers (SMR = 0.61; 95% CI 0.52-0.71), diseases of the circulatory system (SMR = 0.43; 95% CI 0.35-0.51), and injuries and poisoning (SMR = 0.73; 95% CI 0.60-0.89). For lung cancer the SMR was 0.22, but even after exclusion of lung cancer the all-cancer mortality was low (SMR = 0.72; 95% CI 0.59-0.86). CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that participants in long-distance skiing races, which demand prolonged regular physical training, have low mortality. The extent to which this is due to physical activity, related lifestyle factors, genetics or selection bias is yet to be assessed.

  • 2. Schmied, C
    et al.
    Börjesson, Mats
    Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Åstrand Laboratory of Work Physiology, Björn Ekblom's and Mats Börjesson's research group.
    Sudden cardiac death in athletes.2014In: Journal of Internal Medicine, ISSN 0954-6820, E-ISSN 1365-2796, Vol. 275, no 2, p. 93-103Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A 'paradox of sport' is that in addition to the undisputed health benefits of physical activity, vigorous exertion may transiently increase the risk of acute cardiac events. In general, the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) approximately doubles during physical activity and is 2- to 3-fold higher in athletes compared to nonathletes. The incidence of SCD in young athletes is in fact very low, at around 1-3 per 100 000, but attracts much public attention. Variations in incidence figures may be explained by the methodology used for data collection and more importantly by differences between subpopulations of athletes. The incidence of SCD in older (≥35 years) athletes is higher and may be expected to rise, as more and older individuals take part in organized sports. SCD is often the first clinical manifestation of a potentially fatal underlying cardiovascular disorder and usually occurs in previously asymptomatic athletes. In the young (<35 years), SCD is mainly due to congenital/inherited cardiac abnormalities, whilst coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common cause in older athletes. Cardiac screening including family/personal history, physical examination and resting electrocardiogram (ECG) may identify individuals at risk and has the potential to decrease the risk of SCD in young athletes. Screening including the ECG has a high sensitivity for underlying disease in young athletes, but the specificity needs to be improved, whereas the sensitivity of screening without the use of ECG is very low. The screening modality recommended for young athletes is of limited value in older athletes, who should receive individualized screening with cardiac stress testing for patients with high risk of underlying CAD. As cardiovascular screening will never be able to identify all athletes at risk, adequate preparedness is vital in case of a potentially fatal event at the sporting arena/facility. Firstly, we will review the magnitude of the problem of SCD in athletes of different ages, as well as the aetiology. Secondly, we will focus on how to prevent SCD in athletes of all ages, reviewing cardiovascular screening recommendations as well as emergency preparedness and arena safety.

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