Changes in vascular and cardiac function after prolonged strenuous exercise in humans

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Nov;105(5):1562-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.90837.2008. Epub 2008 Aug 21.


Prolonged exercise has been shown to result in an acute depression in cardiac function. However, little is known about the effect of this type of exercise on vascular function. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the impact of an acute bout of prolonged strenuous exercise on vascular and cardiac function and the appearance of biomarkers of cardiomyocyte damage in 15 male (32 +/- 10 yr) nonelite runners. The subjects were tested on two occasions, the day before and within an hour of finishing the London marathon (229 +/- 38 min). Function of the brachial and femoral arteries was determined using flow-mediated dilatation (FMD). Echocardiographic assessment of cardiac strain, strain rate, tissue velocities, and flow velocities during diastole and systole were also obtained. Venous blood samples were taken for later assessment of cardiac troponin I (cTnI), a biomarker of cardiomyocyte damage. Completion of the marathon resulted in a depression in femoral (P = 0.04), but not brachial (P = 0.96), artery FMD. There was no change, pre- vs. postmarathon, in vascular shear, indicating that the impaired femoral artery function was not related to hemodynamic changes. The ratio of peak early to atrial radial strain rate, a measure of left ventricular diastolic function, was reduced postmarathon (P = 0.006). Postrace cTnI was elevated in 12 of 13 runners, with levels above the recognized clinical threshold for damage in 7 of these. In conclusion, when taken together, these data suggest a transient depression in cardiac and leg vascular function following prolonged intensive exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Brachial Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Brachial Artery / physiology*
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Femoral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoral Artery / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Male
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Running
  • Time Factors
  • Troponin I / blood
  • Vasodilation*
  • Ventricular Function, Left*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Troponin I