Endurance athletes and arrhythmia

Two women running

Endurance athletes are more prone to several types of abnormal heart rhythm. We are funding researchers at the University of Manchester to find out why.

Our heart requires an electrical signal to beat correctly. When this signal breaks down disturbances in the heartbeat called ‘arrhythmias’ occur, and in severe cases these can cause serious health problems and even sudden death.

Effects of exercise on the heart

We know that athletes who perform long-term intense exercise training are more prone to several types of arrhythmia, but we do not yet know why this happens.

Professor Mark Boyett and his team from the University of Manchester are trying to answer this question to help us understand what, if anything, goes wrong in the heart in response to intense exercise.

The researchers have already found that in some animals, even a short period of training can alter the electrical activity in the heart, and could explain the slow heart rates seen in many athletes.

We are now funding Professor Boyett and his team to find out, in mice, exactly what effect exercise has on genes being turned on or off in the heart. They will find out if any of these changes have a negative effect on the heart’s electrical activity, and if there are ways to prevent damage from occurring.

This project will help us to understand the effect of intense exercise on the heart, how we can prevent any damage and could even have implications for recommended levels of endurance exercise in the future.

Support heart research

It is thanks to generous donations from the public that we can fund this research, but there is lots more work to be done. Please help us to fund more cutting-edge research.