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1.  Increased longitudinal contractility and diastolic function at rest in well-trained amateur Marathon runners: a speckle tracking echocardiography study 
Background
Regular physical activity reduces cardiovascular risk. There is concern that Marathon running might acutely damage the heart. It is unknown to what extent intensive physical endurance activity influences the cardiac mechanics at resting condition.
Methods
Eighty-four amateur marathon runners (43 women and 41 men) from Berlin-Brandenburg area who had completed at least one marathon previously underwent clinical examination and echocardiography at least 10 days before the Berlin Marathon at rest. Standard transthoracic echocardiography and 2D strain and strain rate analysis were performed. The 2D Strain and strain rate values were compared to previous published data of healthy untrained individuals.
Results
The average global longitudinal peak systolic strain of the left ventricle was -23 +/- 2% with peak systolic strain rate -1.39 +/- 0.21/s, early diastolic strain rate 2.0 +/- 0.40/s and late diastolic strain rate 1.21 +/- 0.31/s. These values are significantly higher compared to the previous published values of normal age-adjusted individuals. In addition, no age-related decline of longitudinal contractility in well-trained athletes was observed.
Conclusions
There is increased overall longitudinal myocardial contractility at rest in experienced endurance athletes compared to the published normal values in the literature indicating a preserved and even supra-normal contractility in the athletes. There is no age dependent decline of the longitudinal 2D Strain values. This underlines the beneficial effects of regular physical exercise even in advanced age.
doi:10.1186/1476-7120-12-11
PMCID: PMC3975967  PMID: 24571726
2.  Rate of cardiac arrhythmias and silent brain lesions in experienced marathon runners: rationale, design and baseline data of the Berlin Beat of Running study 
Background
Regular exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health but a recent meta-analysis indicated a relationship between extensive endurance sport and a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, an independent risk factor for stroke. However, data on the frequency of cardiac arrhythmias or (clinically silent) brain lesions during and after marathon running are missing.
Methods/ Design
In the prospective observational “Berlin Beat of Running” study experienced endurance athletes underwent clinical examination (CE), 3 Tesla brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), carotid ultrasound imaging (CUI) and serial blood sampling (BS) within 2-3 days prior (CE, MRI, CUI, BS), directly after (CE, BS) and within 2 days after (CE, MRI, BS) the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011. All participants wore a portable electrocardiogram (ECG)-recorder throughout the 4 to 5 days baseline study period. Participants with pathological MRI findings after the marathon, troponin elevations or detected cardiac arrhythmias will be asked to undergo cardiac MRI to rule out structural abnormalities. A follow-up is scheduled after one year.
Results
Here we report the baseline data of the enrolled 110 athletes aged 36-61 years. Their mean age was 48.8 ± 6.0 years, 24.5% were female, 8.2% had hypertension and 2.7% had hyperlipidaemia. Participants have attended a mean of 7.5 ± 6.6 marathon races within the last 5 years and a mean of 16 ± 36 marathon races in total. Their weekly running distance prior to the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON was 65 ± 17 km. Finally, 108 (98.2%) Berlin Beat-Study participants successfully completed the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011.
Discussion
Findings from the “Berlin Beats of Running” study will help to balance the benefits and risks of extensive endurance sport. ECG-recording during the marathon might contribute to identify athletes at risk for cardiovascular events. MRI results will give new insights into the link between physical stress and brain damage.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov NCT01428778
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-69
PMCID: PMC3458995  PMID: 22938148
Marathon running; ECG-recording; Magnetic resonance imaging; Blood sampling; Cardiac arrhythmia

Results 1-2 (2)