Evidence of direct cardiac damage following high-intensity exercise in chronic energy restriction: A case report and literature review

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Abstract

Rationale:

Following prolonged endurance events such as marathons, elevated levels of cardiospecific biomarkers are commonly reported. Although transiently raised levels are generally not considered to indicate clinical myocardial damage, comprehension of this phenomenon remains incomplete. The popularity of high-intensity interval training highlights a paucity of research measuring cardiac biomarker response to this type of exercise. This a posteriori case report discusses the elevation of cardiac troponins (cTn) associated with short interval, high-intensity exercise.

Patient concerns:

In this case report, an apparently healthy 29-year-old recreationally active female presented clinically raised cardiac troponin I (cTnI) levels (>0.04 ng/mL), after performing high-intensity cycle ergometer sprints. As creatine kinase (CK) is expressed by multiple organs (e.g., skeletal muscle, brain, and myocardium), cTnI assays were performed to determine any changes in total serum CK levels not originating from skeletal muscle damage.

Diagnosis:

A posteriori the individual's daily energy expenditure indicated chronically low-energy availability. Psychometric testing suggested that the individual scored positive for disordered eating, highly for fatigue levels, and low in mental health components.

Outcomes:

The current case report provides novel evidence of elevated cTnI occurring as a result of performing short duration, high intensity, cycle ergometer exercise in an individual with self-reported chronically depleted energy balance. A schematic to identify potentially “at risk” individuals is presented.

Lessons:

Considering this as a case report, results cannot be generalized; however, the main findings suggest that individuals who habitually restrict their calorie intake below their bodies’ daily energy requirements, may have elevated biomarkers of exercise induced myocardial stress from performing high-intensity exercise.

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