How healthy were the arteries of Phidippides?

Clin Cardiol. 2012 Feb;35(2):65-8. doi: 10.1002/clc.21009. Epub 2011 Nov 28.


Subacute and chronic cardiac adaptations to marathon running may increase risk for sudden death. Herein, it is proposed that cardiac arrhythmogenic remodeling resulting from prolonged strenuous exertion may also have a systemic vascular component. Marathon running reduces coronary perfusion pressure and causes acute endothelial damage, possibly via altering concentrations of circulating angiogenic growth factors with novel vasoregulatory properties. Marathon runners have increased arterial stiffness and augmented pressure from wave reflections contributing to a widening of pulse pressure. Pulsatile hemodynamics may contribute to target organ damage. Moreover, each of these vascular maladaptations (increased arterial stiffness, augmented pressure from wave reflections, and widened pulse pressure) has been associated with atrial fibrillation and may provide a substrate for lethal arrhythmogenesis in the marathon runner.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Arteries / pathology*
  • Arteries / physiopathology
  • Cardiac Output
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Running / physiology*
  • Ventricular Remodeling / physiology*