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Being an Athlete in Young Age Confers No Protection Later in Life; Maintaining Exercise Is Needed to Better Endothelial Function

J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Sep 17;8(18):
Age-Dependent Impairment in Endothelial Function and Arterial Stiffness in Former High Class Male Athletes Is No Different to That in Men With No History of Physical Training.
Majerczak J1,2, Grandys M2, Frołow M3, Szkutnik Z4, Zakrzewska A3, Niżankowski R3, Duda K2, Chlopicki S3,5, Zoladz JA2.
Author information
1 Department of Neurobiology Poznan University of Physical Education Poznan Poland.
2 Department of Muscle Physiology Chair of Physiology and Biochemistry Faculty of Rehabilitation University School of Physical Education Krakow Poland.
3 Jagiellonian Centre for Experimental Therapeutics (JCET) Jagiellonian University Krakow Poland.
4 Faculty of Applied Mathematics AGH-University of Science and Technology Krakow Poland.
5 Chair of Pharmacology Jagiellonian University Medical College Krakow Poland.
Background: Physical activity is generally considered to exert positive effects on the cardiovascular system in humans. However, surprisingly little is known about the delayed effect of professional physical training performed at a young age on endothelial function and arterial stiffness in aging athletes.
The present study aimed to assess the impact of long-lasting professional physical training (endurance and sprint) performed at a young age on the endothelial function and arterial stiffness reported in older age in relation to glycocalyx injury, prostacyclin and nitric oxide production, inflammation, basal blood lipid profile, and glucose homeostasis.
Methods and Results: This study involved 94 male subjects with varied training backgrounds, including young athletes (mean age ∼25 years), older former high class athletes (mean age ∼60 years), and aged-matched untrained control groups. Aging increased arterial stiffness, as reflected by an enhancement in pulse wave velocity, augmentation index, and stiffness index (P<10-4), as well as decreased endothelial function, as judged by the attenuation of flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in the brachial artery (P=0.03). Surprisingly, no effect of the training performed at a young age on endothelial function and arterial stiffness was observed in the former athletes. Moreover, no effect of training performed at a young age (P>0.05) on blood lipid profile, markers of inflammation, and glycocalyx shedding were observed in the former athletes.
Conclusions: Our study clearly shows that aging, but not physical training history, represents the main contributing factor responsible for decline in endothelial function and increase in arterial stiffness in former athletes.
aging; arterial stiffness; cardiovascular disease risk factors; flow‐induced dilation
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