Dr. Marvell Scott: Sports Can Enhance Heart Function

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According to a MSN story, a new study has found that breast cancer survivors can improve their heart's health and reduce the chances of a relapse by participating in competitive sports. Dr. Marvell Scott, creator of the Performance Health Program, said it is imperative patients consider heart rate-based training to get the most of their training program. This is even more important for individuals recovering from breast cancer, he said.

Sports Medicine Center researchers discovered high-level exercise was associated with a longer survival rate. One sport that is gaining more popularity among the breast cancer survivor community is dragon boat racing, which offers a great upper body workout. In Italy, researchers studied 30 dragon boat racers who underwent breast cancer treatment for one year. The researchers then followed the racers for four years. The heart function of each woman was studied at the beginning and end of the year and then contrasted with healthy female racers. The results showed that the heart function of all cancer survivors was in a normal range. Their resting heart rate was even lower after training for four years.

Dr. Marvell Scott believes the results proved sports can enhance an individual's heart function, which is something he stresses with all his patients. "At Performance Health, almost all of our patients undergo metabolic testing in the beginning of their program to see both their resting heart rate and active/VO2 max, which is a measurement that reflects a person's ability to perform a sustained exercise," he said.

Dr. Laura Stefani, lead researcher in the study, said cancer diagnosis and treatment undoubtedly take a toll on the body and its physical stamina.

"This study suggests that competitive sports activity has a positive impact on myocardial performance in women with breast cancer," she said. "Equally important, long-term competitive sport activity appears to have no negative impact on their cardiovascular performance."

The study was presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting last month in San Francisco, Calif. The findings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. Regardless, Dr. Marvell Scott said the study did prove a correlation between exercise and heart function in breast cancer.

"Having breast cancer survivors not only beat cancer, but continue their active lifestyle, improve their heart function and reduce the chance of relapse is extraordinary," Dr. Marvell Scott said.