The athletes with highly fitness levels have been known to suffer from heart abnormalities.
The study was conducted over 2,000 athletes who were eligible for the summer and winter Olympic game.
They found that some athletes were at a high risk of life threatening cardiovascular disorder.
Paulo Emilio Adami from the Institute of Sport Medicine and Science of the Italian Olympic Committee, Rome and lead author of the study said, “Even Olympic athletes, regardless of their superior physical performance and astonishing achievements, showed an unexpected large prevalence of cardiovascular abnormalities, including life-threatening conditions.”
2,354 athletes took part in the study out of which 1,435 were men and 919 were women.
Researchers found that 171 of them had cardiovascular abnormalities.
6 of the athletes were found to have heart conditions that are considered to be life threatening and hence they were disqualified from the competition.
Adami said, “It is really surprising that Olympic athletes, who are considered some of the healthiest individuals, should have such significant abnormalities . . . and that despite these abnormalities they had managed to reach such high competitive levels.”
Coronary heart disease and the cardiomyopathies are some of the abnormalities found in athletes.
The abnormalities in most of the cases go unnoticed because the screening which they had before are not extensive and through like the researchers applied for the study.
Adami said, “We cannot take it for granted that elite athletes are healthy. This study demonstrates that a more accurate assessment is necessary for elite professional athletes than for members of the general population, in view of the intensity and stress on their cardiovascular system through so many hours of training and competition. We suggest that our model of screening is applied to all elite athletes, regardless of the sport they practice.”