|'Kinked' Arteries May Hamper Endurance Athletes||js5280|
Feb 8, 2002 4:33 PM
|Interesting article, just in case someone might be experiencing these symptoms. . .
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Endurance athletes such as cyclists and speed skaters who have leg pain, lack of power and cramping at maximum effort may have a "kink" in the iliac artery, the major artery supplying blood in the legs, Dutch researchers report.
What's more, it seems that surgery to correct the problem may alleviate an athlete's symptoms, according to study results published in the February 9th issue of The Lancet.
While nobody knows exactly how many people actually suffer kinking of the iliac, one major symptom of the ailment--restrictions in blood flow--is frequently diagnosed in endurance athletes, with cyclists heading the list, Dr. Goof Schep explained in an interview with Reuters Health.
Schep, of the Saint Joseph Hospital in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, and colleagues report that artery-kinking problems, which are often chalked up to "overdoing it," can go undiagnosed. The problem can be identified using two techniques, echo-doppler imaging and magnetic-resonance angiography, the report indicates.
In the study, the researchers evaluated the leg arteries of 80 endurance athletes who complained of pain, lack of power and cramping in the muscle group of more than one leg during maximum effort--all of which disappeared rapidly at rest.
"We recorded flow restrictions in the iliac arteries of 58 of 92 (63%) legs. In 40 of these legs (69%), kinks were the most important cause of the restriction," Schep and colleagues write.
In all, 23 patients opted to undergo surgery to fix the kinked artery. This involved severing and reattaching the artery's kink-prone connection to a hip muscle that aids in bending.
Maximum workload in a cycling test and ankle blood pressure measurements improved after the operation, the researchers report.
"Twenty athletes were able to successfully return to their desired high level of competition," the authors note.
Schep pointed out that cyclists--including triathletes since their sport involves cycling--speed skaters, cross country skiers (who use a skating technique) and maybe rowers, are those most at risk of developing the artery-kinking ailment.
Past research has suggested that flexion of the hip muscles may lead to kinking of the blood vessel.
"The cyclists I have seen with this problem had cycled most often more than 50,000 kilometers in their life (achieved by cycling) for 4 years at 10 hours a week," Schep said.
"In around the 200 patients I have diagnosed, until now, there (has been) only one runner--so running seems not to be a (high)-risk sport," he added. "One can benefit only from our method of surgery if the problem is diagnosed early enough...before severe intravascular damage has occurred."
SOURCE: The Lancet 2002;359:466-473.